Two Important Words When Serving Others

The following is content taken from The Customer Service Revolution: Overthrow Conventional Business, Inspire Employees, and Change the World (January 2015 Greenleaf Books)

The two most important words when serving others – I think the two most powerful words employees need to have permeated throughout their consciousness are “compassion” and “empathy.” When you genuinely serve with compassion and empathy, your Customer service is on a completely different level. The question is, how do you teach compassion and empathy? How do you make them more than just buzzwords and platitudes? The top world-class Customer experience organizations constantly put their employees in the shoes of the Customer. When your employees really understand the plight of the Customer-what the Customer is going through, their daily battles (see Day in the life of a Customer)-it starts to crystallize how critically important the experience your employees deliver is, as well as how genuine the caring they show each Customer is.

Customers are not rational – Emotions out power and manipulate our reasoning, and emotion leads to action. Customer experience can trigger a wide array of emotions that can have a great influence on repeat business. Sometimes we don’t know why we like going to a certain place, but something drives us to stop there. We make logical reasons of why, defending the fact that it is based on convenience or something else; but the truth is, the business that delivered a unique experience has emotional capital that can be subconscious. On the other hand, when we hear of a brand and have negative thoughts, most often the case is that one time a poor experience left a permanent negative stamp in our mind.

Understand that it is rational to be irrational – One of the most confusing and frustrating things to employees is the unreasonable way Customers can react to something that seems so minor. However, when a Customer has expectations-not unrealistic expectations, but simple ones about what it will be like to do business with you-and the business fails to deliver, the Customer can get emotional. For instance, the Customer could be having a stressful day, counting on the one company they can always trust (these are typically our best Customers), yet this one time, they not only didn’t get to escape, but their stress level increased as well. Even though it may have been the first time the company has messed up with this Customer, the Customer can react emotionally. It is critical that Customer emotions be part of employee service-recovery training-especially for dissatisfied Customers. Once employees understand there is a good probability of a Customer reacting emotionally instead of rationally, they won’t take it personally and are better able to make a brilliant comeback.

Anti-no zone – My employees don’t need to ask permission to do anything for a Customer except use the word no. And to my knowledge, we have never given permission. It doesn’t mean everything is a yes, but no is the word heard most often in business. Train your employees to eliminate it, treat it like a swear word, and focus on alternatives. An article titled “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers,” which appeared in the Harvard Business Review, demonstrates the power of removing the word no from your company’s vocabulary. Ameriprise Financial asked its Customer service reps to capture every instance in which they were forced to tell a Customer no. While auditing the no’s, the company found many dated policies that had been outmoded by regulatory changes, or systems, or process improvements. During its first year of “capturing the no’s,” Ameriprise modified or eliminated twenty-six policies. It has since expanded the program by asking frontline reps to come up with other process efficiencies, generating $1.2 million in savings as a result.

How hard do you make it for your Customers to get resolve issues? A study from the HBR article shows the level of frustration Customers have to go through when trying to solve a problem:

  • 56 percent report having to re-explain an issue.
  • 57 percent report having to switch from the web to the phone to solve a problem.
  • 59 percent report expending moderate to high effort to resolve an issue.
  • 59 percent report being transferred.
  • 62 percent report having to repeatedly contact the company to resolve an issue.

The “AskOnce” promise – Another great example from the HBR article explains how some companies are making low effort by the Customer the cornerstone of their service value proposition. South Africa’s Nedbank instituted an “AskOnce” promise, which guarantees that the rep who picks up the phone will own the Customer’s issue from start to finish. The immediate mission is clear: leadership must train frontline employees on mitigating disloyalty by reducing the effort Customers must make

*Related: New Customer Service Revolution Keynote Video available for you to share with your employees

The luck of the Irish – I will be speaking at The Salon Owners Summit 2016 On January 11, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. The event is put on by Phorest Salon Software for salon Owners from across Europe who want to unlock the key to ‘Creating a Magical Client Experience.’ For more information check out

Great holiday gifts for clients and staff – Get your team or your best clients the #1 selling Customer service book, The Customer Service Revolution and Make Price Irrelevant in 2016!

About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.