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a blog by Don R. Crawley

Keynote Speaker on
IT Customer Service and Compassion

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Every IT customer service professional encounters, at one time or another, the customer who is wrong. The one who operated with incorrect information, failed to follow instructions, or simply made a mistake. The customer may make excuses or place incorrect blame, and as an IT professional you will have to make a choice: correct the customer, or not? Here’s why arguing is never the solution.

Why You Should Never Argue With a Customer

Arguing escalates the situation. Arguing comes across as a challenge. A challenge or threat triggers a customer’s innate “fight-or-flight” response and increases their adrenaline levels. Arguing with a customer rarely changes their mind. Instead, it puts them on the defensive and causes an already tense situation to escalate. As the IT customer service professional, it’s your job to remain calm, employ techniques to de-escalate the situation and solve your customer’s problem.

Arguing is not solution-focused. Your job is to solve your customer’s problems. Arguing only attempts to explain to your customer why they are wrong, but does nothing to develop a solution to the problem. The fact is – it doesn’t matter whether your customer is wrong or your customer is right. The only thing that matters is you resolving whatever issue they’re experiencing.

It’s not about you. It’s about the customer. A lot of times arguing stems from our deep internal need to be right. You don’t want to look foolish to the customer, so you want to correct their mistaken perceptions to save face. In IT customer service, the customer’s personal perception of you doesn’t matter. What matters is whether you help them solve their problems or not.

It degrades the ongoing customer relationship. Maintaining a good relationship is essential in IT customer service. You want your customers to come to you when they have a problem, not avoid you at all costs. If a customer recalls their interactions with you as frustrating or demeaning, they will be hesitant to contact you or your company again. They may try to solve their tech issues on their own, ultimately often causing bigger problems that require a more complicated fix. If you’re with an MSP, they may decide to take their business to your competitor.

Does This Mean I Can’t Educate My Customers?

Avoiding arguments with customers doesn’t mean you can’t share information on how to navigate technology to avoid the same problem in the future. Part of your job is to help empower your customers to feel competent and confident in their use of technology. However, choose your words and timing carefully to avoid making the customer feel like you are assigning blame. Avoid words like, “next time…,” “when you did this…”, and “instead of…” Instead, give straightforward instructions: “When you see this prompt, do this…” or “When this happens, check the settings here…

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