On a recent flight from Zurich to Newark on United Airlines, I was asked the familiar question, “Chicken or pasta?”
“I ordered a kosher meal.”
“No you didn’t”
If this was a movie, we would freeze the frame right here, a screech would be the sound effect, maybe even a crash:
1) Never tell a customer that they did not do what just they just told you they did.
2) Never respond to an initial statement by a customer in a reactionary, argumentative and even accusatory way.
“I did,” I continued. Would you like me to show you?”
“It does not matter, you are not on my list.”
3) Never tell a customer that what they have to say does not matter. Let them say it. Then, if you chose to, ignore it, but make them feel important, like they are the most important person in the world to you in that moment.
4) Do not subject customers to the confinements of your corporate process or technology.
Too often the customer service representative is held hostage by such things and can not serve the needs of their client. Worse yet, even if they agree with the customer and want to help, they have no ability to do so. That having been said, when you find yourself in that position, do not hide behind the bureaucracy. Do not say “The system won’t let me do that.” You will only frustrate the client and sabotage his confidence in you and your company as a service provider able to meet his needs.
At that point I actually called the flight attendant on her snooty attitude.
“Is that the type of customer service you are offering?” I questioned. And then I offered her a way out:
“How about saying, ‘I’m sorry sir. There seems to have been some confusion and there is not a kosher meal available. Can I get you something else.”
5) Do not focus on what was, on what you can not change. Do not focus on the bad service the client is experiencing. Turn it around. Look at this as an opportunity. Offer a solution. Don’t focus on what you can’t do, offer or ask what you can do.”
I helped her out, “Do you have anything vegetarian?”
“Yes we have risotto and vegetables.”
“Ok, I’ll have that.”
What if from the beginning, the flight attendant had said, “I’m sorry”
“We seem to have made a mistake.”
7) Take responsibility
Customers are not looking to assign fault or blame you personally. They want a solution. they want help. You are the face of the company to your client. When things go wrong, it is up to you to portray the face of the company and decide is this a company that helps or is confrontational.
“Can I offer you something else. We have vegetarian options.”
8) Offer a solution
Detach yourself from work. Don’t take it personally. You are not being attacked.
Empathise with your customer. Offer compassion. You have the power to transform every experience with every customer (no matter how obnoxious they are) into a positive experience. For both of you.
Most people want to be understood and loved. Show your love for your fellow human beings in your job. Start by listening to them. Then offer them a solution. You have the ability to make it happen and to make yours a better world.
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