Winning Words

Prepare for happy resolution, not war, in customer service


‘Tis the season. And with the season, many of us will have a chance to engage with customer service, or maybe better stated as having customer care opportunities. Whether we are physically going to the customer service department in the store, making a telephone call to the customer care department, or chatting online with a customer service representative, ‘tis the season to give businesses a chance to make things right.

Now generally I find two ways in which people try and prepare themselves to make these calls or go back to the store to get the satisfaction they desire. The first is someone who really doesn’t like confrontation, and they agonize over having to make the call or go back to the store. They make sure they have their receipts in order and the packaging is intact so that they can make their case. But they are still mentally, physically and emotionally preparing for a battle. It makes them nervous, and in some cases, even sick as they prepare for a “no” instead of a “yes.”

The second group of folks look at it like it’s a game or a battle right from the beginning. They have no issue going online, calling the business or walking into the store. No, not walk into the store, they march into the store with a swagger like they are walking out of the locker room and onto the field to start the game or fight. They dial the number with authority and cruise through the prompts waiting for someone, anyone to pick up on the other side. Again, they too are prepared for war and not a happy resolution.

Maybe you have seen the new television commercial for the Discovery Card. There is a young man gearing up to make a call to customer service to state that he doesn’t want to pay any annual fees. He readies himself, steadies himself, breathes, and then makes the call — only to be caught off guard by a customer care representative telling him that there are no annual fees. It’s only a television commercial, however it caught my attention as I reflected on my own experiences with customer service representatives recently.

I truly believe the industry is doing some amazing things when it comes to ensuring that we as customers receive high-quality customer care. Whether it is training the people on the phones or in the stores on how to properly engage with customers, or the technology they are using and consistently upgrading, the use of artificial intelligence and data, and just better expectations and execution on the part of leadership, businesses of all kinds are making it easier to resolve issues instead of forcing us to fight the battle and still maybe lose the war. They do realize that when we win, they win too.

So, as we approach the season, and we find ourselves having to find an answer, a resolution, a refund, or a replacement of some kind, I encourage us all to take a breath, ready ourselves, steady ourselves, and plan for a happy outcome. When we expect the best, look for the best, and treat others with respect, we will typically receive the best in return. It’s when we expect the worst, look for the worst, and ready ourselves for the fight, that is when we typically find ourselves in a fight.

Again, kudos to the companies who are going above and beyond to train their customer care personnel in how to defuse and de-escalate tough situations and customers. I for one, look forward to being a customer of the future as these companies continue to make advancements in technology to serve us all better in the future.

So how about you? Do you find yourself anxious about contacting customer service? Do you ready yourself for battle expecting the worst? Or are you preparing for the happy and positive outcome? As always, I would love to hear your customer care story at and when we can expect the best, look for the best, and treat others with respect, it really will be a better than good season.

Michael Norton is a resident of Castle Rock, the president of the Zig Ziglar Corporate Training Solutions Team, a strategic consultant and a business and personal coach.

Michael Norton


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