In a recent corporate training session, I spoke with the group about compassionate customer service. Cindy sat on the front row. She was friendly and professional with me, but shortly into the session, she said, “I don’t get it. I act professionally around my users and I’m efficient. Why do I need to be “buddy-buddy” with them? Why is that even necessary?”

It’s About Being Easy to Work With

I wasn’t really surprised. That subject had come up before, often with IT people who’d been in the job for many years and who were seasoned veterans of the IT world. I agree with the question. Providing compassionate customer service or teamwork does not necessarily mean being buddy-buddy or developing a deep personal relationship with your customers or teammates. Instead, it has to do with being pleasant and easy to work with and recognizing that we’re responsible for helping our end users, other customers, and colleagues on our team do their jobs more productively, efficiently, and creatively.

If, however, you work for a managed service provider, a value-added reseller, or a similar business, it does have to do with developing a positive relationship with your customers. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re buddy-buddy with your clients, but it might mean that you take advantage of opportunities to deepen your relationship with your customers, always recognizing that they are customers first and maintaining appropriate boundaries.

What is Compassionate Customer Service?

Compassionate customer service means that we use our manners (say please, thank you, and you’re welcome), take an interest in our customer’s problem, and treat everyone around us with dignity and respect. It has nothing to do with befriending them or having personal discussions. In fact, it should never be about having personal discussions during a support call (or any business-oriented call, for that matter). It’s not even about making small talk, but about treating others well, using your manners, and acting in a professional manner always.

Compassionate customer service happens when we act like friendly professionals (but not too friendly), when we care about doing our jobs well to serve our customers and colleagues, when we act interested in our customer’s issues (especially when we’ve heard the same problem 900 times before), and when we treat everyone and everything around us with dignity and respect. Compassionate customer service simply means we’re pleasant and easy to work with while solving problems.

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

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