Customer Service Week: It’s Not Personal, or Maybe It Is

Tuesday, October 5, 2010 @ 10:10 AM
posted by mrscaz

Customer Service is Personal

I may seem a bit dichotomous as I write my series on customer service during this momentous week, but I want to make sure I attack the subject from both sides; as the Agent and the Customer. It’s a little different and a lot more work, but it will be worth it in the end as it appeals to a much broader audience. I am sure you fall into either category. So let’s start with todays subject!

I will be referring to the past weeks blog entries as my case study for this week. If you havent read them yet, check out Customer Service Gone Wrong Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

It’s Not Personal

If you are a customer service agent, then you should know that you can’t take what the customer says personally, otherwise you will hate your job. The customer isn’t angry at you personally. Well, as long as you haven’t said anything to piss them off. The customer is unhappy enough with a situation to say something. Let’s not exacerbate the situation by taking offense and firing back. Instead, let’s try some helpful anger management tactics.

Calmly ask the customer to hold for just one moment. (unless holding is what got them this upset)

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Count to 10.
  3. Take another deep breath.
  4. Repeat to yourself “This isn’t personal.”
  5. Take another deep breath.

Now, if you’ve tried all these steps in succession and you still have tension built up, it’s time to pass the phone off to someone else. You can’t let your customer wait on hold for more than a minute. If you can’t pass the phone off, then run through the steps again before getting back on the phone. Just try to remember, no matter what the customer says, you are only a means to an end. You just happened to get caught in their crosshairs. It’s your job to diffuse the situation. With good listening skills and a dose of empathy, you can do just that.

Also try to remember that this customer is doing you a favor by complaining. A typical business hears from only about 4% of its dissatisfied customers. 96% just go away and 91% will never come back. Without the customer, you are out of a job. This is an opportunity for improvement!

It’s Very Personal

Here is where I regal you with tales of my recent customer service woes. As you may remember from my first post Customer Service Gone Wrong: The Right Answer, I had an order go terribly wrong. What I ordered is not what was being shipped to me. I called first thing that Monday morning (8:02 am to be exact) to try to get the problem resolved. Long story short, I was told nothing can be done. Well I’m here to tell you that something can always be done. Unless you are dealing with a very small business where you are speaking with the owner and they have no customer service skills, something can be done. So, when you are faced with a “no”, do yourself a favor and ask to speak with someone else. Don’t lose your temper. Don’t cuss or otherwise throw a fit. Just calmly ask to speak with a supervisor.

Now, to be perfectly honest, that Monday morning I was in a rare mood. I could feel my temper getting out of control the first time I was told no and I started to get spun up from there. But I did regain my control, at least temporarily, between agents. The 2nd conversation started off much better, although it still didn’t get me the results I wanted. My point is that you can’t give up. You have to keep fighting for what you want, because it is personal. The person on the other end of the phone is a representative of the company and does not necessarily know the right answers. Sometimes it takes a persistent knocking to get the right door to open.

Do you know how many customers don’t complain when they have a bad experience? For every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent. 26!!! So, if you like the company’s products or services, then keep knocking. Get the answers you want and let them “wow” you!

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