If you’re explaining, you’re losing

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The late actor (who also did some other things) Ronald Reagan had a saying:  “If you’re explaining, you’re losing.”  Now, when it comes to popular politics, what he meant by that was that it’s important to keep your arguments simple:  The more succinct you can make your point, the more likely people are to agree with you, and more quickly.  If all it takes to come to your conclusion is along the lines of:  ‘Well, here’s the fact, therefore, here’s the conclusion,’ you’re likely to win lots of people over to your way of thinking on a topic.  There’s a corollary that goes, if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t know it thoroughly enough.  As such, conversely, the thought goes, if you have to go through a complicated chain of logic to demonstrate the point you’re trying to make, people may either think you’re lying or don’t really believe it yourself or any of myriad other reasons not to share your perspective.  Keep it simple, stupid, is another way of saying it, at least in practice.

I’d like to suggest that, when it comes to CX, we apply a similar philosophy.  And it’s most easily demonstrated in your Customer Service/Support/Care/Success organizations.  Are the team members you put in Customer-facing positions in these organizations explaining your policies?  Or are they solving your Customers’ issues?

Recently, I contacted a service provider and asked them if they’d help me solve an issue I was having with their service.  What I expected to be happening was not, in fact, happening.  The agent was polite and quick to respond that, well, because their policy is whatever it is, they didn’t do this thing I wanted done for me.

Okay.

Well, I know you didn’t do what I wanted you to do.  That’s why I’m calling you.  What I want is it done, not an explanation of why you didn’t do it for me.  I wasn’t upset, so I certainly didn’t take it out on the agent, but I was feeling a bit piqued that day, so I said to him:  “Okay, Randy.  I don’t mean any offense to you at all, but frankly, I don’t care why you, corporately, do it the way you do.  I just want to get it done the way I need it.  Can you help me?”

Naturally, he wasn’t able to help me (the likelihood of a brand not empowering their frontline employees to take care of their Customers is pretty much directly proportional to the brand’s not taking care of things in such a manner that one doesn’t have to call them in the first place).  So when I spoke with the supervisor, I started off saying, Yes, I know that your policy is to do this or that or whatever—as opposed to doing what I want you to do.  What I’m looking for is a solution to my issue, not a rehash of your terms and conditions or otherwise an excuse for why I’m having to bother with this as it is.  I already know that you don’t do this without me calling you…that’s why I called.

Rather than offer me assistance in making what I wanted to have happen happen (or at least help me find a way to get the end result I was looking for), the agent—and then his supervisor—simply explained to me why what was happening was happening.  Repeatedly.

That wasn’t helpful.

How do you enable and empower your agents?  Do you arm them with the proper tools to address what issues your Customers may face, and then authorize them to act in ways that help take care of your Customers’ problems?

Or do you write up procedures and rules and regulations (based, likely, to protect yourself as an organization, rather than take care of your Customers) and instruct your frontline team members to simply point to those as an explanation for why they can’t help them?  I’d say from the perspective of Customer Experience, if you’re explaining, you’re losing.

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