It Is Not About The Caulk

Not About The Caulk, The DiJulius Group

It Is Not About The Caulk

I recently was in Las Vegas to speak to a homebuilders association. The night before at the reception, my host was introducing me to their members as the keynote speaker for the next day. One of the members asked me what my topic was. When I told her it was Customer Service, she responded with, “I need to hear it, because my Customers make me crazy.” She went on to give me an example, “One woman was building a 1.5 million dollar house and you wouldn’t believe how she was losing her mind over the caulk. It is caulk!”

I found this story funny. It is the same story in every industry. Employees are not trained correctly to see things from the Customer’s viewpoint. What they are struggling with, their fears and concerns. It is never about the caulk or the shipment being late. Those are just the tipping points to why someone may become irrational.


Let’s look at a day in the life of a Customer building a house. It doesn’t matter if someone is building a $100,000 house or 1.5 million dollar mansion—it is all relative. In both cases, it is a significant purchase for them. After they sign with the builder, stuff happens. They see on the news the economy may be headed for a recession, they lose one of their top clients in their own business, or their number one salesperson quits. The builder then tells them there are delays and additional costs adding up. When they come to do an inspection of the home, they see the caulk in the kitchen is unacceptable; it pushes them over the edge and they unload on their salesperson.    


*Related – Watch An Incredible Day In The Life Of A Customer Video


It Is Rational for Customers to Be Irrational

When emotions are involved, logic disappears. Emotions out power and manipulate our reasoning and lead to action. It’s no accident that 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, nevertheless, something drives us to stop there. We may try to find a logical excuse, perhaps pointing to convenience or some other factor. But the truth is, the business delivered a unique experience that leaves a subconscious impression. On the other hand, negative thoughts about a brand are often caused by a poor experience that left a permanent blot in our memory.


It can be confusing and frustrating for employees when Customers react unreasonably to something that seems 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. Even though it may have been the first time the company messed up, the Customer may still react irrationally.


QTIP—Quit Taking It Personally

Daniel Kahneman, a psychology professor at Princeton, is a Nobel Prize winner for his research proving we behave emotionally first, rationally second. As human beings, our emotions are the most powerful factor in how we respond and interact with others. For that reason, it is critical that dealing with Customer emotions, especially for dissatisfied Customers, be part of employee service-recovery training. 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. The watchword for employees should be QTIP—Quit Taking It Personally.

When Dealing With An Upset Customer, Your Employees Need To Do The LEAST Watch this 1-minute video on why your employees should always do the LEAST when dealing with an upset Customer.

*On March 6th The 2019 Customer Service Revolution Lineup Will Be Announced!

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.