Admitting To A Problem Is The First Step Toward Solving A Problem
We have recently encountered a rather debilitating issue in our call center with a company we do business with. There’s nothing like calling customer service and going through the paces with the assumption that it’s a problem on MY end, NOT theirs.
I’ve been in this customer service stuff too long not to ask:
The service was working fine last week. What changed? Are you guys having any issues on your end?
In this particular case, I’ve probably talked to five different frontline customer service representatives and without fail they quickly responded to that question with “The server you are on hasn’t had any issues recently.”
What I’m really doing here is desperately searching for someone who can tell me that I’m not the only customer having a problem. If your business is anything like ours, your IT staff has about a billion other things on their plate. If I’m going to ask IT to drop everything to look at an issue, I need to be fairly confident that the issue is on my end.
So after a two week runaround, I finally spoke with someone in technical support who miraculously said:
I have another customer reporting the same issue. I’m pretty sure this has to do with something we released a couple weeks ago.
And with that the skies parted and a beam of light shone down upon me and told me everything was going to be ok. It’s not my problem. I can let my IT folks off the hook.
Why am I telling you this story? There are 3 reasons:
1. Transparency is attractive- I can work with people who are transparent. I’m not perfect and don’t expect perfection. If you’re willing to be honest, I’m willing to work with you. Scale that to a company and it’s exactly the same. I’ll give a company my business if they are willing to shoot straight with me.
2. Customer service should be empowered to be transparent- Great customer service professionals think critically about the calls they are receiving and look for common threads. A comment like “There’s have been no problems on your server” makes the customer feel like it’s still their problem. On the contrary, a comment like “Oh, I spoke with another customer having this issue” can really put a customer at ease. Customer service representatives should be empowered to be this real with customers.
3. Admitting there’s a problem is powerful- I’m keenly aware that when technical support admitted to a problem, I was immediately put at ease. No longer did I have to suspect that our IT staff did something wrong. They have admitted a problem and now they can make progress on fixing the problem.
Yes indeed I feel better. Hopefully the post to follow is all about how the problem was solved and we were able to move on with business as usual.