A Lesson in Customer Service

I’d like to think that I’m a bit of a customer service “pro” since I do A LOT of that in my real life and consider it a “calling” and something I’m very passionate about. I’m often found saying things like, “Everyone should have to do ‘time’ in a customer service role, just so that they know what’s it’s like the next time they yell & scream at a customer service person!” I’m sure it would help anyway! 🙂

One thing that I’ve learned over the years that I’ve been in this field, is this: Treat those that are your most “difficult” customers extra special – try to go above and beyond for them.

Now, before you get upset and say, “They don’t deserve it!” or “That’s impossible!” – hear me out!

I will give you that for some people, you can just never make them happy. And that’s true. However, I have learned that even those people can be more civil when you are giving and civil to them FIRST.

I will also give you that I have NOT always been able to do this myself! Especially for some particularly difficult people. But, I am MUCH better at this now that I’ve been on my Happiness Project. Let me explain:

As my regular readers know, I am looking at life in a different way. I am more accepting of things I cannot change. One of these things are the difficult people that we have to deal with on a daily basis. Another is that I need to be true to myself and not care so much what others think. Both of these things that I’m getting better at has helped me deal with difficult customers.

Compassion goes a long way in customer service. We don’t know what kind of day this person is having or what troubles they have in their life. Why not be a shining star for them? What would be the harm in saying, “I understand your problem – let me see if I can help you!” or even just saying, “Wow, that does sound like an issue. Let’s try to come up with a solution together”

Sure, they may have come in yelling and screaming with their eyes blazing. I am willing to bet that if you emphasize with their problem, SMILE honestly and put yourself in their shoes, the situation will turn around.

I have done this a lot lately with some of the more difficult customers. I’ve listened, I’ve jumped up and tried to work on the solution with them rather than ignoring it (hoping it would go away). I have tried to be a beacon of hope in an atmosphere that isn’t very understanding right now. I have at least tried to understand and do what I can.

What I’ve noticed: Those people have begun to be much more civil when they come in now! Saying things like, “You’re always so good to me” or are more understanding of waiting times etc. I’ve also noticed a VERY big difference in how I feel about the situation. I am not tense and worried about what they’re going to say next. I feel like a “bigger” person for getting past the negativity and trying to be just a little more positive. In the end, both of us benefit from the incident rather than both going away upset! I have been a little surprised at that – that it has made that much of a difference.

Again, I don’t know what that person is going through in his or her life. But if I can be a beacon of light for just a minute or two, maybe it will make a difference for them. It certainly doesn’t do any harm at all!

What do you think of this idea of being extra helpful to those more difficult customers? Add your thoughts to the comments!

4 thoughts on “A Lesson in Customer Service

  1. Absolutely hon!

    I remember an incident clear as a bell, when I was working in a corporate job, a client phoned up enraged about some order for letterhead or something had been submitted weeks ago and never delivered… and when I said, “You’re absolutely right. This should never have happened. Let me get on this right now…” there was a deafening pause on the other end…

    Finally, no one made excuses. Finally, no one passed the buck. She had her print job inside a week from that call. From that day forward, whenever that particular person needed something done she phoned me directly, because she knew I would do what I promised to do. (Tip for all entrepreneurs: Follow through with a smile and win over even the most ruffled customers.)

    If you think about it, whenever we are upset about a product or service or there is a dispute over something, 98% of the time, all we truly want is for the business/service provider to say, “I understand… let’s fix this/find a way to make this right” or whatever. Even if their hands are tied, if they calmly explain the situation and offer some other compensation or solution, we know they treated us with respect and kindness.

    All we really want as humans, is to be acknowledged, to be heard, and ideally, to have others relate to us.

  2. Yes, yes, yes. You and I have talked about this Shawna, and you’ve heard this one before.

    “What other people think about me is none of my business”

    Why? Because typically it’s not even about you. It’s about them. Their unjustified opinion of you stems from something happening in their lives, not yours. You’re right that there are a million stories out there, and we have to assume that it’s one of these stories that is driving that ‘difficult’ customer. It’s not personal. It’s not about you.

    To answer your question. Absolutely. Getting upset will only fuel their already twisted opinion of you and cause them to return the favour. What you give, you get.

    Well done.

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