An Exercise in Making the Customer’s Day

I will come back to this often but our mission for this blog is to learn how to communicate better and share our journey with others.  We are all about observing and learning in customer service.  We will leave the reviewing to review sites.  That being said, I tried something new last week; as has been the case quite a bit recently.  I emailed our customer service staff and said:

You have the power to make someone’s day today. You will have people calling saying that their day has literally been ruined because their service isn’t working.  You can either choose to let that customer ruin your day or you can choose to “un-ruin” theirs.

I then offered a small incentive to the employees that make someone’s day one time and respond to my email to tell me about it.  I was thrilled to get five responses from our team and want to share the victories and what we learned from this exercise.  I’ll use first names to identify them.

Craig from our sales staff talked about a new customer who was thrilled to reach our friendly sales staff and find a solution that cost less and offered more features than their previous provider.

Jenny had a case where a customer prematurely canceled their service.  She took it upon herself to call other companies necessary to restore service for this customer and owned it every step of the way.  Ultimately, the problem was solved and the customer was extremely happy.

Dorian had a call from a customer at 7am on a Saturday where the customer needed help installing apps on several iPhones.  He spent an hour with the customer making sure all of his needs were met and the customer was happy with the level of service he received.  How often do companies have a drop off in phone support on the weekends?  How shocked must this person have been to get this level of support from Dorian?

Jack spoke with a customer who was unclear on some important details of his account set up.  The customer was frustrated but Jack coolly helped the customer with his configuration and he was happy by the end of the call.

Pablo in sales spoke with a prospective customer who had a number of questions and when it came down to it really didn’t need our service.  Rather than telling the caller to go away, Pablo did some research and found a solution that met the customer’s needs with a completely different company.

In some ways these five cases are very routine but in all cases the calls could have gone completely different had Craig, Jack, Jenny, Dorian and Pablo not chosen to own the situation and see it through to a resolution.

Now, our staff thinks they are going to get away scott free on this exercise.  In reality I am about to suck them in deeper because I now have follow up questions.  Here are the questions I will ask of my team based on this experience:

1. How did it feel to make someone’s day?  Was it annoying or did you have a tremendous sense of accomplishment in that moment?

2. Do you feel like this was a fluke, a random occurrence or perhaps compatibility with the customer or do you truly sense that you had the power to make the customer’s day?

3. Do you do this on EVERY call or do you have room for improvement?

Now on the very same day, I took a call from a very heated customer thinking I could “un-ruin” his day and ended up receiving the worst tongue lashing I have ever received in 12+ years of customer service.  In this case I thought I was quite reasonable and friendly.  Looking at the situation as a whole, we have a ton of room for improvement and I am quickly reminded that this is a process where we develop good habits and grow into the best customer service and sales professionals on the face of the earth.

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Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

3 comments

  • Bring the questions ON!

    1. How did it feel to make someone’s day? Was it annoying or did you have a tremendous sense of accomplishment in that moment?

    It’s never annoying to me to make someone’s day. In fact, I didn’t even think twice about doing this. It’s just what I like to do to make it easier on the customer. I know my role is to help and help I will, without thought. And to be honest, I didn’t really feel a sense of accomplishment in the moment or even afterwards. I’m not sure why I didn’t but I guess it might be due to having this type of behavior be second nature for me. I obviously am proud I could help the customer and I am happy that they are happy.

    2. Do you feel like this was a fluke, a random occurrence or perhaps compatibility with the customer or do you truly sense that you had the power to make the customer’s day?

    I do not see this as a fluke or random occurrence whatsoever. I knew I had the power to straighten up this situation. I used my knowledge of the issue and took ownership to resolve it to help this frustrated customer.

    3. Do you do this on EVERY call or do you have room for improvement?

    Oh, there is always room for improvement. I guess I start every call as a blank slate with “what can I do for you”? My trouble lies in customers who are disrespectful toward me. This changes my mood and willingness to help them (I still will but maybe won’t go as far out of my way as I could). I know this sounds terrible but I’m going to be honest here. You mentioned the bitter customer you spoke with and that’s the exact type of situation I would have had trouble with. I need to work on this!

  • I’m reading your feedback and the comments from the others and I do sense the common thread. What do we do when the customer resists? Here’s where this becomes my responsibility and not that of the CSR:

    -I need to make sure the CSRs are equipped to handle as much as possible. This improves resolution time. People don’t want to wait any longer than they have to.

    -I have to seriously ask what our company could have done differently. Could our website have been more clear? Could we have communicated better at the point of sale? Could we have minimized wait time?

    That’s just to name a couple things. It definitely calls for a holistic approach. To blame customer service professionals when they don’t make the customer’s day could be short sited in a lot of cases. This is cements in my mind the importance of being customer centric through and through as a company.

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