When trying to improve customer service skills, sometimes it is helpful to look at a bad situation to realize how ineffective it was. This recent customer service experience highlights what happens when your focus is NOT on the customer or person you are speaking to.

When you are communicating with others, are you more concerned with being right or with helping the other person?

Video Transcript:

For those of you that subscribe to my blog, or to the YouTube channel, you know that every once-in-a-while, I like to share with you a customer service story that really illustrates powerful communication and awareness, or the alternative.

Recently, I had an opportunity to visit a large electronic store, and all of you, I’m sure, know this particular store.

I was in need of a very particular component to connect two parts of my computer system together.

I’d done my research online, I knew what the part was, I had checked this store, they carried the part, and it was in stock.

I went to the store, went to the department where I believed that part probably would be located, was looking through trying to find it, and wasn’t seeing exactly what I needed.

It was at that point that a salesperson came over, asked the standard question, “Can I help you?” Now, for those of you that have watched my blogs, you know that’s not one of my favorite questions, “Can I help you?” Something along the line of, “Is there something in particular you’re looking for?” “Do you have a particular challenge that you need to solve today?” Those would be a little bit more attention grabbing for me.

I know it’s a standard question, so I explained to the gentleman what the adapter was that I was looking for. That’s when it went downhill fast. His first reaction is, “They don’t make such an adapter.”  I answered patiently, “Yes, they do; I know they do.” “Well, that kind of an adapter wouldn’t work very well. I would not trust that kind of an adapter. In fact, we don’t even carry anything like that.”

Already, my patience is starting to wear very thin, so I explain to this gentleman, “First of all, they do make it, secondly, it’s highly rated by your customers on your website. Not only is it highly rated by your customers on your website, your website says you have it in stock.” Well, he looked at me now in a very defensive posture and said, “Well, I certainly wouldn’t try one of those, but if we have them, they would be over here.” He took me to the appropriate aisle.

Turns out, he did know where they would be even if he hadn’t noticed them before, and begrudgingly took one off the shelf and handed it to me. Then, immediately turned around and walked away. Now, the component that I needed to buy, the adapter, does work very well. In fact, right over here to the side is where my computer is, and it’s been working quite nicely for about two weeks, now.

What kind of impression do I now have of that store? That salesperson had multiple opportunities to redeem himself. He could have said, “I had no idea they made that kind of component. I had no idea we carried that.” Even a, “Thank you; I had no idea,” but instead, he chose to take the role of expert, even though in that situation, I knew more about his product line than he did. Take a look at how you’re interacting with customers. Are there times that you maybe offend the customer because you may think you know more than they do? Have you ever been harsh with a customer, and maybe not provided the best value?

As most of my customer service stories do, this comes down to that you focused. That salesperson was more concerned about being right, and apparently moving me through the store quickly by telling me, “No,” than he was about helping me find a solution to the problem that I was facing.

Awareness is always the key. The more you can become aware of how you are interacting with others, and how you’re responding to them, the more success you’re going to achieve. Just a thought for today. Have a great one. Thanks.