Simple Words Seem To Be Hard To Say


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As I stood in line for my daily shot of caffeine, a guy walked in the door with a coffee in his hand.  He sorta stepped to the front of the line and said, “I just went through the drive-through and this is not what I ordered.”  Being a customer service kind of guy, my expectation was that the lady behind the counter would apologize – nothing big or dramatic but a simple “Oh, I’m sorry – how can I make it right?”  But the answer did not include one of the most simple tenants of customer interaction; instead she asked him what he ordered?  He told her (I cannot remember the details because it was one of those silly multi-word coffee orders that included “extra hot.”)  She then said, “what is wrong with it?”  He said he was not sure but that he ordered it almost every day and that in addition to not being extra hot, it did not taste right.

Again – she had the opportunity to apologize but failed again – saying, “OK – I will remake it for you. They must have not included the caramel.”

Now, the funny part was that there were only two people working – she, as the coffee barister and the person working the window – which means she was  the “they.”  With that, the conversation took another turn.  Instead of taking responsibility for the mistake, she was blaming others for the problem.

In a workshop recently I had an employee tell me that she did not think she should ever say she was sorry because that was admitting that the company had done something wrong.

Here’s the question of the day – do your employees feel the same way?  Is it OK for them to take responsibility for mistakes?  Do they have permission to say they are sorry?  If I were your customer – and I walked in and said that my coffee (or product/service) was not the right one, would your employee instinctively say, “I’m sorry” and then attempt to solve my problem?  I hope so!  You should know so!

Bob Furniss
Bob Furniss' career has focused on improving customer experiences. As the Director of Bluewolf's Service Cloud practice, Bob leads a team of consultants who works with clients in three key areas: Salesforce Service Cloud strategy/implementation; Social Media strategy and implementation in the contact center; and creating vision blueprints to help companies set a new course for their contact centers in the areas of people and technology. Follow him on Twitter


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