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7 Tips For Being More Assertive (And Successful) In Customer Service

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Steve DiGioia

Being assertive is challenging for many individuals.

It can be a particularly daunting task for customer service representatives.  Not simply restricted by their own ability to be assertive, these individuals also dwell on how their assertiveness – if mistaken as aggression – could impact the customer experience.

Great agents (and leaders) cannot fall victim to these limitations and reservations.  They must become more assertive.

In addition to making them more helpful to customers and more valuable to the business, assertiveness helps agents feel better about what they doing.  It is great for their experience.

Mindful of its importance, notable customer experience influencer Steve DiGioia offers his take on becoming more assertive.  While customer service is the backdrop, his lessons have relevance for all professionals.


You still haven’t learned how to speak up, huh? Maybe you’re just afraid of confrontation? I know, you don’t want to offend anyone, right? Don’t want to come across as too assertive or even aggressive; what’s the difference anyway?

The service you provide has always lacked because of your fear of “taking charge” and not wanting to offend your customers. There was always that little hesitation, that delay, that pause, that prevented you from reaching the level of your peers. You’re tired of always missing out on the recognition bestowed on others.

But why does this happen? Maybe you’re not cut out for this…

Here are some common thoughts about business;

  • You have to be ruthless to get ahead – but that’s not your style
  • You won’t be successful if you let others walk all over you – but you can’t help it, it just happens…

You’re told “be a tiger and go out there – be assertive”. But how?

Customer service employees must walk a fine line between satisfying the needs of their customers and ensuring they uphold the standards and expectations of their company. They are individuals who give of themselves and ensure the customer experience is second to none. They create memories.


But what about the memories of those entrusted to provide the actual service?

We must feel good about the service we provide AND we must feel good about ourselves. That’s not possible if we fear being assertive, straightforward, frank, clear-cut or any other descriptive word you wish to use.


We need to have the mindset of “I am here to help you”, “follow my lead”, “this is what we’re going to do”. Being assertive is the basis of great service.

“But Steve, I don’t want to come off as being aggressive”, you may say.

“Drawing the line between aggressiveness and assertiveness is always a difficult proposition”, so says Lynn Taylor in her article from Psychology Today.


Here’s the difference…


Aggression usually results from too much negative emotion and is a hostile attack against someone else. Assertion, (being assertive) is about being confident in standing up for yourself and your beliefs while maintaining respect for others (and yourself).

It’s all in the mindset, a mindset that’s built on confidence – and confidence is built on experience.

You can do this, you can. Don’t believe that nagging little voice in your head filling you with doubt. Look how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved over these past few years. You got the promotions, the title and the respect of your coworkers.

Now it’s time to NOT be “afraid” to speak your mind.


No fear of reprisals since your words carry no malice. No need to fret since you state facts, not opinion. No need to cower because you speak from experience.

How can you help someone else, by providing a high level of service, if you don’t help yourself first?

Now it’s time to be more assertive; use it as a tool that leads the way for your personal development.


1.    When we “tell the truth,” we tend to be more assertive.

2.    When we offer a “helping hand,” we tend to be more assertive.

3.    When we are “true to our feelings,” we tend to be more assertive.

4.    When we “speak from experience,” we tend to be more assertive.

5.    When we can “look others in the eye,” and not shy away from fear, we tend to be more assertive.

6.    When we “stop caring what others think of us,” we tend to be more assertive.

7.    When we can “sleep well at night” because we’ve been faithful to our core beliefs and values, we tend to be more assertive.

Say this each morning:

“I have a job to do, to ensure the customer’s experience is great. I will make sure I let nothing step in my way of that goal. I have the skills and experience; I can do this. Get ready world, here I come!

WOW, you sound more assertive already…