No one likes to be wrong. Worse yet people hate to admit when they are wrong. This can be especially damaging in a customer service situation where a customer service provider relays incorrect information and then needs to backtrack. Customers lose faith in the competency of the product or service, customer service reps often get defensive, and neither party leaves the interaction with a sense of accomplishment. Overcome this limitation by double checking information and indulging customer requests.
A client, Adam, shared a frustrating story with me about submitting an application for a certification program he intended to enroll in. After completing the form on the company's website and hitting submit a cryptic error message displayed on screen.
Assuming that his application had not been processed, Adam called the company to report the problem. The customer service rep asked what the problem was and when Adam told her she said, "It looks like the application system is functioning. It's probably a connection issue on your end. "
"Can I send you the error message to see if it helps resolve the problem?", Adam asked.
"The error won't help me diagnose the problem because it's a generic message. The application might have timed out on you. Try again in an hour and I'll check with the developer." the rep told Adam.
"Maybe if you see my screen it will help, could I have input something incorrectly?" Adam asked.
"No she responded, it's probably just a connection issue that will resolve itself." the rep responded.
After an hour Adam tried again and the application still failed to process so he called the customer service rep back. She again assured him that there was not a problem with the application. She suggested he try from a different computer.
Later in the day he tried from a different computer with the same result. He was understandably irritated when calling the third time to report the problem. On the third call the customer service rep said she had heard back from the developer who suggested Adam review a couple fields that needed to be formatted in a particular way and can cause problems. Sure enough the application processed when he changed those fields.
"Would the screen shot have confirmed this when I called earlier?" Adam asked. Certainly feeling defensive the customer service rep said, "Probably not, the developer has to see the error to fix it."
Adam resisted the urge to tell her that's what he had suggested to begin with.
While Adam was glad to get the application processed he was not off to a good start with this company. It would have saved quite a lot of frustration if the customer service rep had gathered the information, double checked her information, and then gotten back to Adam. Even worse she rejected information from Adam that the developer could have used to confirm the issue and respond with a definitive answer.
Don’t be hard to do business with. Make it easy for people to work with you. Double check your suggestions before you deliver them to customers.
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