5 more effective strategies in Customer Service

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Nothing like the service industry to make you lose your hope in humanity. The customers are so demanding, don’t they see that you’re human too!?! Don’t they know there is only so much you can do!?! The service industry can be pretty demoralizing. I’m not going to beat around the bush here, some people really do just stink. However, their problems are not yours, and unless you give them permission, they do not have the right to make you feel less than anything about yourself.

That being said, there is a lot to be learned from this industry. There are things you can do and say that not only make your life easier, but can allow you to perform your job better. My co-worker Dean from my time at big car company gave me some great advice for dealing with difficult customers. “Just focus on what you can do”. Don’t focus on what you can’t do. It will not only make the customer upset, but it will make you feel powerless. So, here it is:

My 5 strategies in customer service

If you can, give the customer what they want- no more, no less

There is something to be said for simply under promising and over delivering. This article by Harvard Business Review has some really good points. Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers

When I worked at big car company, very rarely were customers “delighted” by the level of service they received. I mean really delighted. If they gave us the highest score, it was because we did what we said we were going to do. It was because we under promised and said said we would have a small car, and gave you a regular sized car instead. It was because we gave ourselves extra time, and said we would be there in 30 minutes, but were there in 15. What it really came down to was having our act together. It had nothing to do with how delightful we were. But, as this article states, if we didn’t have our act together, customers were quick to notice.

If you ask for a latte at the coffee shop, you’re going to be happy for your latte. It’s what you ordered, and you can go on with you day from there. You’ll go back because you liked the latte, and you need the caffeine. Not because your were delighted.

If you mess up, do what you can to make it up to the customer!

When I worked at big coffee company, if we had a hang up (like the coffee machines not working, or the cash register) we typically gave the customer the drink for free, or gave them a voucher for a free drink next time. The customer was inconvenienced by something on our end not working. Sorry isn’t good enough in this situation. They are paying for a good or service, and they didn’t get what they paid for. You really must make it up to them if you want them to come back! When I was pregnant with my second child, I ordered breakfast at a diner. I waited 30 minutes, and went to go ask about my order. It wasn’t even put in. I was hungry and pregnant! However, that’s not why I don’t eat there anymore. They didn’t apologize or try to make it up to me. That’s the real reason I will not go back.

A little honesty can go a long way

“Don’t put sugar on poop and tell me it’s fudge” You’ve probably heard that one, or something close to it. Sugarcoating can sometimes be good. But, poop is poop. There’s no getting around it. It can also be very condescending and insulting to ones intelligence. Sugarcoating is not very difficult to see through.

At the start of a particularly difficult day one of my bosses told us “this day is going to be really rough, we’re short staffed and really busy. But, when it’s done I’ll take us out to happy hour”. Out of all the things he did wrong (he was fired when a large sum of money went missing) he did do this one right. He respected us all enough to be honest with us! That went a long way. It can go a long way with your customers too. I’m not saying you should tell a customer a situation sucks, but poop is poop. If a situation is out of your hands, be honest. You can say “I’m so sorry it took so long to get your drink to you. We had two people call in sick, so we’re pretty short staffed. Your drink is on us today.” You’re keeping it positive,but you didn’t tell the customer you couldn’t do something (you did get them the drink). Yes, it will take a bit more time, but more customers will understanding that you are doing what you can with the authority you have. Especially, if you go out of your way to make it up to them!

Even if you have to repeat yourself…focus on what you CAN do

There will always be customers who try to get something for nothing. Or try to get a discount they don’t deserve. When you are at the end of your rope and there is no more you can do for them to make them happy. You have tried to be flexible, you have tried to be accommodating, but the customer keeps pushing back! Just tell them again what you can do. When I worked at big car company, I had to do this a few times.

“Sir, I can give you one additional day.”

But but but, I need three extra days to pick up my kids

“Sir, I can give you one additional day.”

Little Johnny has soccer practice, and Suzy has ballet! 

“Sir, I can give you one additional day.”

You are not being rude, but you are holding your ground. Besides, if you are at this point with a customer you likely have already involved your manager 🙂 When I used this approach it took about three times, but the customer would finally get the point. They knew they couldn’t fault me for anything because I would do this with a straight but compassionate face. However, they also knew they weren’t getting any further. When push comes to shove, its your job, or business, not the customers.

To a certain extent, be willing to be flexible

A little flexibility can go a long way. As long as it isn’t to your detriment or the company you work for. This article by Entrepreneur sums it up really well. Provide Can-Do Customer Service

The manager’s resistance in there struck a chord with me. What harm will it do to warm up some cake? Seriously! You get repeat customers, your waiter gets a good tip! It takes 20 seconds and it’s worth that 20 seconds to keep a good customer. When you are so rigid to your “rules” you risk losing good customers. I used to think “this is bogus! who really does that” except at big coffee company I worked with a girl who did just that 🙂 I had a former boss who would do that too. It didn’t do him any favors either. Anywho, fact of the matter is, this inflexibility did bode well for them.


Welcome to My Career Journey! I use my very unique career path to help you grow your business and career!
I’ve lived in seven different states over the past ten years. That’s a lot of jobs! Different industries, and different work cultures! Both good and bad 🙂
Thank you so much for stopping by. I look forward to helping you grow!
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