Monday Motivation: Let’s Un-ruin Someone’s Day Today

lightsI love walking the neighborhood during the holidays and soaking in all of the festivity in the form of the decorations on houses.  Who doesn’t love a fantastic display of Christmas lights?  I am reminded of a story from a couple years ago when we walked by one house that was particularly festive.  We noticed a sign in the front yard and this is exactly what it said:

“To whoever stole the illuminated seal from our front yard, thank you for ruining our Christmas.”

While it was funny at the time, the fact that the loss of a silly lawn ornament could ruin an entire season for a family made me really sad.

In customer service I do happen to speak with the occasional unhappy customer.  Inevitably in the course of the call they will blurt out something like “my day is ruined!”  It’s at that point that the hair on the back of my neck stands up.  In my earlier days I might have even sarcastically uttered the question “Really? Are you sure you want to let this ruin your day?”

Now allow me to put on my empathy hat for a moment and look at this through the customer’s eyes.  When a customer calls saying that their day has been ruined, take a moment to hear them and consider just how much time they may have spent trying to fix the issue on their own.  Multiple contacts with customer service will only exacerbate the issue.  Then consider what impact this has on their business.  Perhaps you are speaking with a small business owner who arrived at work that morning with a full schedule of sales calls.  Because your service doesn’t work properly, they canceled those calls and instead spent three hours restoring their service.

Allow me to suggest a new three-step process for handling customers who call claiming their day has been ruined.

  1. Bye Bye Defensiveness: Begin the call by removing your defensive hat.  Your job is NOT to defend yourself or the company.  Your job is to serve the customer.
  2. Hello Empathy: Put on your empathy hat and view the situation from your customer’s perspective.
  3. Learn: Management needs to know if you speak with a customer whose day has been ruined.  These are critical learning opportunities to improve your systems.  If your company routinely ruins the day of your customers, consider purchasing copies of Service Failure for everyone in management this Christmas.

We have often said that you have the power to make your customer’s day.  This concept also implies that you have the power to un-ruin someone’s day.  Oh by the way, you know those angry customers that call and ruin your day?  Perhaps if you embrace this new power to un-ruin their day, they won’t ruin yours.

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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.

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