Are there any Customer Service Absolutes?


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  • The customer is always right
  • Smile when you talk to the customer
  • Don’t argue with a customer
    the list goes on and on . . .

Customer service would be easy if absolutes such as these were indeed true. In today’s highly interactive world of customized customer service, nothing could be LESS needed than training in such fallable absolutes.

Customers are in fact individuals who now demand that we meet them in their time and space and stand ready to assist their highly specialized wants and needs. If we fail to do so, our relationship will certainly not be long lived or loved.

The customer isn’t always right. All one has to do is look at the Dunkin’ Donuts video gone viral where a customer went on a ten minute rant with a cashier about an interaction with a previous employee. While the cashier was courteous beyond belief in response, should customer service employees be trained to just stand and take whatever is thrown at them by a crazed consumer no matter what? Common Sense would say certainly not. It is not only offensive to the employee receiving the insults, but to other customers as well to have to listen to such vulgarity (just look at the face of the other customer in the viral video previously mentioned). I salute Dunkin’ Donuts for standing behind and even rewarding the employee took this abuse. I just hope that they and other companies train employees on what they do and don’t have to put up with from customers.

According to a recent Gallup Study on the State of the American Workplace, employees must be engaged and appreciated by their employers to give great service. Telling employees to put up with anything and everything will only make an employee hate their job and their customers.

And what about that smile rule? Have you ever wanted to slap a customer service representative who has had a little too much smile training ?! If a customer’s eyebrows are furrowed and their body language tells the service provider that they are about to explode with anger, smiling will not do anything to lower their angst. Reflecting the customer concern (yet not their anger) is the response to be trained, NOT a smile.

When you train front-line customer service staff, make sure that you are not giving them some generic book or CD course that teaches absolutes. Drill down to very specific scenarios your customer service staff are likely to encounter in YOUR business and discuss the appropriate words, body language, and tone of response. It is only then that you will bring Common Sense Service to your Close Encounters on the Front Lines. After all, most absolutes can be ABSOLUTELY ridiculous in any given situation!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Teresa Allen
Teresa Allen is a nationally recognized customer service speaker and customer service author. Allen is owner of Common Sense Solutions, a national training and consulting firm focused on bringing common sense to business and life. Allen is author of Common Sense Service: Close Encounters on the Front Lines and is co-author of The Service Path: Your Roadmap for Building Strong Customer Loyalty.


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