Customer Service: Forget the Top, Aim for the Middle.

If I was to recap three conversations from last week I would probably be inclined to share the less than pleasant ones I had with the post office, an eBay seller, and a retail store clerk. This blog post could turn into a “gripe-fest” if I did, so I have opted out of recapping those conversations. Instead, I tried to reflect positively on them. What can I learn? What could I have done better to resolve issues of unfavorable service?

As a sales manager/trainer I have often promoted the benefits of conflicts. Yes, you read that right, I said, “benefits of conflict.” In conflict, there is opportunity especially in business relationships. When people do business together, they might not learn what each other are about until they reach a point where a difficult conversation becomes necessary. How people choose to resolve matters, communicates a lot about them. It is often during these unpleasant situations that trust is developed and a stronger commitment to working together is established. Think about the times you have been dissatisfied with a company, store, vendor, etc.  A problem arises and you approach them thinking the worst. They resolve matters to your liking and you think, “That was not so bad, I really appreciate how they handled this.” We all remember those moments and continue to do business with people that make it easy for us to do business with them.

In my personal encounters with bad customer service, I see a clear path for successful resolution; find the middle ground and aim for that. No matter how “wronged” I think I am, I’ve had better luck trying to understand the problem first from the other side before communicating my top list of demands for resolution. Understanding defuses tension. When people are not tense or stressed they are much more likely to objectively handle the issues at hand.

Challenge/Share: Do you have something difficult you need to deal with this week at work? Try to step away from it and see it from the other person’s point of a view. Make your goal all about understanding and not about winning the conflict. Share your experience here in the comment section