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Customer Service Foundations (part 3)

In our last video blog we looked at the far-reaching ramifications of allowing a single bad customer-service experience to occur. But how do we prevent these from happening in the first place?

There are two rules or principles to keep in mind when dealing with customers. We’ll call these Service Axioms.

Service Axiom #1

Customers who are allowed to win will usually let you win. We’re taught throughout our lives to engage in win/lose situations–that if someone wins a conflict, someone else must lose. Even your customer has this tendency. In a customer service environment, it is crucial that you create a win/win situation. Your customer is not likely to initiate this, so it’s incumbent upon you to do it. Let the customer win, and the customer will let you win.

So if the customer is pushing you, the most natural instinct you have is to push back, usually in the form of raising the tone of your voice to match the customer’s, or engaging in passive-aggressive behavior, like finding some way to “correct” the customer.  But that’s also the worst thing you could do in this situation. Instead, do the opposite. Take a step back; accommodate the customer, and let the customer win.

Service Axiom #2

The corollary to Service Axiom # 1 is Service Axiom #2: Customers who push you when you refuse to push back will usually apologize later. We often feel silly when we push where there’s no resistance. Think of the last time you pushed someone emotionally and they simply took it. Most of us feel a little embarrassed when we do this sort of thing.

Well your customer is no different. If you maintain a professional demeanor and actively look for a solution while your customer is behaving aggressively, by the end of that call your customer is likely going to apologize. If he doesn’t apologize, he’ll at least want to even if his pride prevents it. Either way, you’ll have earned your customer’s respect and maintained your professional dignity.

These axioms are foundational to exceptional customer service. Without them, it is nearly impossible to turn potentially bad customer-service situations into good ones.

Well that wraps up this edition of the SupportEDGE video blog and the series on Customer-Service Foundations.  Until next time be sure all your support activities are customer-centered, performance-driven, and outcomes-based.

~ES

Eric Svendsen, Ph.D., is principal and lead consultant of SCInc., a learning and development consulting company. Eric has over 20 years experience in creating and executing results-oriented, outcomes-based learning and development initiatives aligned to corporate goals. He specializes in leadership development and coaching, and leading organizational culture-change initiatives around customer support and safety leadership. Eric was personally involved in the development of certification standards, performance standards, exam validation, competency models and training for the customer-support and technical-support industry, and was instrumental in the creation of the only performance-based certification in that industry.

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