Michael Hess contributed a story to CBS MoneyWatch entitled, If you do something for a customer, do it happily.
In his post, he recounted his displeasure in dealing with a major national wireless carrier that has a history of providing horrible service. In this anecdote, the company made a mistake but made him jump through hoops for hours with multiple representatives before acknowledging it. But, instead of apologizing, a short-tempered “supervisor” gruffly told him, they had corrected the error and “I don’t know what else you expect us to do.” As compensation for the inconvenience, he suggested that if they changed places, “he would offer a courtesy credit to make up for the trouble… but that’s just me.”
Michael went on to say that, “You would have thought I called her baby ugly.” He pointed out the fact she had the authority to issue such a credit. Finally, the supervisor relented and said with the most condescending voice imaginable: “Alright, listen. I will give you a one-time customer inconvenience credit of $25, but you get one of those a year and that’s it.”
I am paraphrasing Michael’s comments, but you can read the original article here. He recognized several customer service lessons during this interaction. The big lesson was this: If you’re going to give something to a customer:
1. Do it quickly – If you know where a conversation with a customer is likely to go, get there fast. This supervisor chose to drag it out, rejecting the easy resolution either out of some warped sense of protecting her company or simply having a bad attitude (probably both). The supervisor created a “lose-lose” situation when a “win-win” was so easy.
2. Never insist you can’t if you can – Can’t usually means won’t. If you know you have the ability and authority to do something, don’t dance around it or lie to the customer by claiming you can’t.
3. Do it happily – To tweak the adage “anything worth doing is worth doing right,” we could say “if you’re going to do something to make someone happy, do it pleasantly.” Giving a customer a “make-good” is great, but giving it with obvious reluctance and passive-aggressiveness is like a child throwing a toy at a sibling and saying, “Fine, just take it!”
4. Don’t qualify it – If you’re going to do something for a customer, do it enthusiastically. Don’t tell the customer all the reasons you shouldn’t be doing it or that. Once you’ve chosen to do or offer something, do it immediately, happily, and unequivocally. Take out the passivity and just be “aggressively helpful;” There is absolutely no reason to do it any other way.
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