Attitude makes the difference in customer service

View from formal dining room window to back yardLet’s assume that customer service agents interacting with consumers know to act promptly and politely. Let’s also assume that the customer can identify the mood of a customer service agent by their pace, volume, inflection, intensity, and even attitude whether it is over the phone or in person.

Take for instance the example of a title closing company here in South Florida. A seller appears at the reception desk for a 3:00 appointment to close title on her home, notably the most expensive transaction she has ever done in her life. Note also the two employees behind the desk continue to chat with each other, and have not even looked up to acknowledge the woman’s presence. Would those two employees behave the same way if their boss had walked up to the reception desk?

It’s odd that we rarely mention customer service when it falls somewhere in the realm of mediocrity, but we certainly can tell the bad and the great when we see it and experience it for ourselves. Maybe it’s time for a bit of attitude adjustment? Think of it this way if you would. We call a business at 4:45 and the person answering the phone can’t email or fax the relevant paperwork because everyone is getting ready to close the office at 5:00. We walk into a store and tell the sales person that we are just browsing, and the representative is gone forever. A sales representative tells a customer to give them two days advance notice before making an appointment when a few hours would certainly suffice. Sales people complain about their clients and tell their co-workers, the client is a “nut-job.”

So how do we change the attitude? We need to see it from the customer’s point of view, and then remember it is the customer that gives us the reason to get to our destination. We blame the customer if he doesn’t see the situation as we see it. A real estate sales person complains that she has had to show her buyers too many homes, and they have yet to write a contract on one. The agent says the buyers are too fussy and not realistic. That may not be true at all. In real estate, one of the basic elements of being able to match a buyer with a home is to listen to the buyer’s wants, to educate the buyer about reasonable expectations, and to explain to the buyer some options that might be considered.

Chances are that few of us are 100 percent satisfied when buying a home; maybe it only had a one car garage instead of the two-car garage, but the backyard is so much more luxurious than  the buyer ever thought she could afford. You can’t blame the customer; know what is behind her behavior and be able to empathize. Don’t take complaints personally, and remember that the annoying customer you help today may be speaking to your next new customer tomorrow.

photo credit: Kim Novak, RE/MAX Masters