The Power of “Let me see what I can do!”

Have you ever asked someone if they could help you find a solution for a problem and without blinking an eye or lifting a finger they responded with a confident “No”?

I had an experience once at a large department store.  I was all the way over in the garden section which was on the outer edge of the store.  The cashier rung me up and I paid for my plants.  Not ten seconds after she handed me the receipt, I pointed out that she charged me twice for one item.

Her response to me was “Oh I’m sorry, I don’t handle returns. You are going to have to go to customer service and have them correct this.”

I responded, “Are you kidding me? Customer service is like 300 yards away and I am parked 30 feet away.  You JUST did this. Are you telling me you can’t fix it?”

Of course she said “NO!”

I like to refer to this as being “Stonewalled” by customer service.  This cashier was so confident she could do nothing for me that she shooed me away and left me for dead believing she was right and there were no ifs, ands or buts about it.  In situations like this, the customer has no choice but to either ask for a supervisor or leave angry.

Earlier today I was discussing with Jenny (the other person that writes for this blog) about how much I dislike it when this happens in our customer service department.  A customer or worse yet, a prospective customer will call us and ask if we have a solution for them and the agent says “No” without any thought that possibly, with just a little creativity we may be able to do something to win their business.  I don’t have stats to back me up but I guarantee a significant number of complaints and supervisor escalations are due to this very issue.

Anyway, so I tweeted earlier today asking for tips on cultivating this “can do” attitude in our customer service and shortly after saw this wonderful quote from @annettefranz.  She tweeted, “To my customer: I may not have the answer, but I’ll find it.  I may not have the time, but I’ll make it.”  Absolutely perfect!

As I reflect on this quote, I realize how critical training, empowerment and coaching are for our Customer Service Staff.  Furthermore, I have found that the people that innately display this never say “NO” mentality already, tend to rise to the top in any department I have been a part of.

Jenny made a comment earlier that she appreciated that we don’t have a customer service culture laden with rules and bureaucracy.  We are real people, helping real people.  I want to maintain that.  I want to give our employees freedom to make decisions that will WOW our customers.  I want to give them the tools to be creative and think for themselves and not have to refer to an “Owner’s manual” for every detail.  All of this being said, here is what I would vow to our customers and customer service staff moving forward.

My Vow to our Customers: We are committed to our customers and will work tirelessly to find the exact solution that works for them with the features they need at a price they can afford.  We realize that we can’t force them to buy our service and so we daily strive to earn their business.  If we absolutely cannot offer the feature or service they are looking for, we will have no problem helping them find another company who can meet their needs.

My Vow to our Customer Service Staff: We are committed to training and empowering you to be the very best customer service representative you can possibly be.  Your training will be thorough.  While we cannot possibly cover every little detail, we can impart to you a desire to learn and better yourself and an attitude that looks at a question or challenge and works tirelessly to respond with all possible answers other than “NO.”  Excellent feedback from customers and a successful career are soon to follow.

Now, let’s see what we can accomplish with this new challenge to Communicate Better!

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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.

7 comments

  • Great article to finish my day 🙂

  • The other day I went in John Lewis, a department store in the UK

    It was 5:45 and the shop closes at 6

    One of the assistants was clearly up to his neck in paperwork and returns, stuff he had to do before he could go home after a long day.

    I went up to him and said “Sorry to bother you but could you just…”

    His response:

    “That is no problem at all Sir, I always have time for customers”

    And that is why I always shop in John Lewis

    James

    • Wow, that’s fantastic. It’s amazing to observe the companies that have this type of service culture so deeply ingrained in their being. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  • When I used to work at Starbucks, we had a “rule” of sorts to try to not say no. How can we turn any “no” situation into a positive. Instead of saying, “We’re out of decaf coffee right now” we can say, “I can make you a decaf Americano instead.” Or, if there was an item not at our store, we’d call around to other stores (because there’s ALWAYS another Starbucks around as we all are aware). And, if the item was at the other store, one of us would drive to get it.

    Knowing that we DO have power to really go above and beyond is extremely motivating!

    • Wow that is totally why we used to be told never to say “Unfortunately.” That’s just a modified version of “No.” This is clearly something that has to be in our training. Great comments.

  • Pingback: Removing “Unfortunately” From Your Customer Service Vocabulary | Communicate Better Blog

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