What Two and a Half Men Can Teach Us About Customer Service

01 (285)Customer service isn’t an easy task, and for the representatives who successfully calm angry customers, soothe irate tempers, and are able to solve consumer problems in a polite and reasonable manner are those employees any great company should consider giving a raise in salary. Staying calm isn’t always the easiest task to do, especially when the attacks are often met with rudeness and unprofessional behavior on the part of the customer.

Angry clients, customers that feel a product is defective, poor service, an insecure co-worker¬† may be all in a day’s work for an experienced customer service representative. Now what makes one representative so much better, and what are some of the traits successful agents all possess?

One of Charlie Sheen’s most memorable Two-And-A Half Men stories centered around Allan’s former wife Judith being frustrated and angry with life’s turmoils. On one particular afternoon, Judith was ready to lay into Charlie’s lack of respect and whatever else was bothering her, when Charlie immediately diffused Judith’s anger. And how did he do that? Charlie assumed a natural, relaxed posture, softened the expression in his eyes, and as Judith shot off her frustrations and anger, Charlie shook his head in agreement and repeated “I understand.” As much as the sitcom is designed for pure enjoyment, isn’t how Charlie acted and responded those very traits a seasoned customer service agent utilizes when dealing with angry clients?

Breaking it down, the primary initial response is to stay calm, be reasonable, and let the client vent. Of course, there is no need to ever be subjected to rudeness, unacceptable behavior or profanity, and in that case inform the customer that their behavior will not be tolerated. If it is a phone call, then warn the customer you will hang up, or perhaps they would like to call at another time when they have calmed down. If you are in a face-to-face confrontation, excuse yourself and ask that person to get herself under control.

Never resort to anger yourself, because the situation more than likely will become explosive, and then nobody wins, and nothing gets solved. By now the anger should be waning, and the real problem is most likely somewhere near the surface. Listen carefully to the customer; don’t interrupt but assure the customer you are on their side and will do everything you can to rectify the situation to the best of your ability. At all times, remember you are speaking just like Charlie – both calm and engaged. From there you and the client can work on an amicable solution.

Remember however – if the problem was your fault, the first necessary protocol is to apologize. Customers will forgive you if you make a mistake, you apologize, and then rectify the situation. Don’t embellish your excuses with blaming other people; you represent your organization, and you need to fix the mistakes.

Whereas every company has their own standards and procedures for customer service, the ABC’s of staying calm, knowing your product, and having the ability to right those wrongs in a professional and satisfying method which suits your customers’ needs, is the key to a successful organization. And at the end of the day, that same professional wipes her hands, grabs her purse, and leaves the day’s complaints behind her as she goes home to her family.

photo credit: Victor1558

One Response to “What Two and a Half Men Can Teach Us About Customer Service”

  1. Maria Elena said:

    Feb 20, 12 at 1:55 am

    I absolutely agree, customer service isn’t an easy task. One needs to observe utmost courtesy, stay calm, have in depth analysis, and converse in a friendly manner. No matter how difficult a situation might be, one must remain professional.

    Good job, Cheryl! This will surely be a guide for agents as well as business in assessing their customer service.