3 Tips for Gaining Clarity in Customer Service

don't make assumptionsOver the past two weeks, I’ve taken Don Miguel Ruiz’s wisdom and shared two of The Four Agreements  and how they relate to customer service. Check ’em out if you haven’t already:

  1. The Power of Your Word in Customer Service
  2. Customer Service Wisdom: Don’t Take it Personally

Now, come along with me as we move on to the third agreement:


Don’t Make Assumptions


Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life. ~Don Miguel Ruiz

Jeremy even shared a post about this last year titled Repeat After Me. To Assume Makes An…

In customer service, when you assume you know what the customer is going to say or do, jump in and interrupt them with your response, your new name is going to be Jack! (teehee Jack…what you are if you “assume”…get it?)

As much as we think we know the customer’s problem because we’ve heard the same story from other customers, we still need to listen. This situation might be different. Don’t just assume you know right away what the issue is…even if you actually do.

We’re always making up stories in our minds and eventually, will begin to believe them. This only leads to misunderstandings, stress and ultimately, a not so hot customer experience.

Here, these might help:

3 Tips for Gaining Clarity in Customer Service

  1.  Ask, Ask and Ask! I’m a fan of the saying, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” There really isn’t. Ask questions, no matter how ridiculous you think they are. The more you ask, the less you assume and the more you learn and understand.
  2. Awareness, Awareness and Awareness!  Notice the types of situations you’re assuming in. Being aware of your assumptions will help you narrow down insecurities, which you can work toward improving on in the future. Make a list of these situations and examine them, after they already happened, with an open mind, asking yourself what you needed to do in the moment to avoid jumping to conclusions.
  3. Attention, Attention and Attention! Listen and give attention to the person you are speaking with. Try to be completely present in the situation. Tune in entirely to what is being said, without making too many assumptions in your mind about what’s going on. Giving that person the floor to express themselves will allow you to really concentrate on the authenticity of their words.

By not making assumptions, you’re staying present in the situation, which allows you to stay part of the customer experience. By not making assumptions, you’re not making up scenarios in your mind and causing unnecessary misunderstandings. By not making assumptions, you’re gaining more clarity from your customers, which gives you opportunities to improve and learn.

By not making assumptions, you’re on the journey toward being even more awesome!


Jenny Dempsey is currently the the Customer Experience Manager for NumberBarn.com. She's the co-founder and regular contributor over at CustomerServiceLife.com. She's also a self-care coach for customer service agents and leaders at JennyDempsey.com. She is the mother to a toothless rescue cat named Chompers. Avocados and veggie tacos are the way to her heart. Hanson fan for life.


  • Just like your post on not taking it personally — great advice, but it’s difficult. Our brains are instinctively wired to assume things. Putting the breaks on that process is essential, but not easy.

    Nice tips.

  • Jenny Dempsey

    Thanks so much, Jeff!

    Yeah, it’s most definitely NOT easy. At all. The same day I posted this, I noticed myself making an assumption about a situation with a customer. It caught me off guard at first, being so aware, but I was able to pull myself down from the clouds and back into the present situation to help resolve it, sans assumptions.

    We’re not meant to be perfect, but having that awareness and I guess if we can catch ourselves here and there, we’re heading in the right direction.


  • This short article deserves an A for simplicity and relevance. Actually three A’s: ask, awareness and attention. That’s all about gaining clarity in how you interact with your customer.

    • Wow–All A’s! I’m going to hang this one on my fridge!

      Thank you so much for your comment, Shep. It means a lot and I appreciate you bringing light to the simplicity of the three A’s.

  • This can be challenging when working in a call center environment. Anticipating the callers needs is also important to keep talk times to reasonable levels.
    Listening is important balanced with efficiency is equally important.

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