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a blog by Don R. Crawley

Keynote Speaker on
IT Customer Service and Compassion

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I walked into the luggage store with my carry-on bag following dutifully behind me. I was the only one in the store…no customers, no employees. After a moment, an employee emerged from a back room. He looked at me, said nothing, and walked on. I scratched my head, wondering why he didn’t say something or acknowledge me in some way. After a few more minutes, he came back and asked if he could help me.

Arguing with Customers is a Bad Idea

I explained that my bag had a problem with one of its wheels and I wanted a warranty repair. He examined it, showed me the problem wheel, and told me they’d have it ready in about a week. He went on to explain that, since my bag is a spinner (it’s got four wheels), it’s not designed to be pulled behind me on two wheels. He explained that it should only be pushed beside me on all four wheels. I explained that pushing it doesn’t work well on carpeted surfaces, such as what is frequently found in airports, or parking lots, on gravel, or other rough surfaces, which is why I sometimes pull it behind me on two wheels. He argued with me, saying emphatically that the rolling surface made no difference whatsoever! That’s certainly not been my experience and I’ve spent a lot of time rolling luggage over carpets in airports and hotels as a frequent traveler. I’m not sure where he got his information, but that doesn’t really matter. He should never have argued with me about my experience. Instead, he might have said something like this: “Well, you obviously travel a lot. The information I was given is that the surface shouldn’t make any difference, so please tell me more about your experience.” But, he chose to argue with me, implying that my experience was not what I said and that I, his customer, was either being deceitful or didn’t know what I was talking about. Regardless, it made me feel frustrated and a little angry.

View Your Customers as a Valuable Resource

Look, your customers are often your best source of information about how the products and services you offer work in the real world. Sure, sometimes customers are confused. On rare occasions they’re dishonest, but there’s no point in arguing with them. He had nothing to gain by arguing with me and, in fact, the experience made we want to avoid his shop in the future, even to the point of purchasing a different brand of luggage so I don’t have to go there again.

Give Your Customer the Benefit of the Doubt

When your information is in conflict with what a customer believes, give the customer the benefit of the doubt. Arguing with customers is never a good idea. Ask them questions about their experience with your product or service. Find points of agreement with the customer, even if you disagree with most of what they’re saying. Strive to keep the interaction positive and upbeat. You may learn valuable information that you can use to enhance your products and services. Arguing makes people dig in their heels, so there’s no way to win. Asking questions of your customer for your own education and information honors the customer and says their experience and ideas are important to you and your business.

Oh, and be sure to acknowledge your customer as soon as possible, even if it’s to say, “I’ll be right with you.”

For More Ideas on How to Improve Communication and Customer Service Skills

IT customer service bookBring my IT customer service training seminar onsite to your location for your group, small or large. I have programs that can fit nearly any budget. Click here for the course description and outline.

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Sign up for my free IT customer service training by email, The 5 Principles of IT Customer Service Success. The course includes the free version of my new IT customer service book The 5 Principles of IT Customer Service Success and eight free customer service lessons by email.

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