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The Psychology of Customer Service

There are many lessons to be learned by studying the human mind and its functions in relation to customer service.  Each person in a customer service interaction, both the customer and the company representative, have their own motivations, frame of reference, emotional triggers, and desired outcome.  In an ideal world, both would be respectful and kind towards each other.  They would quickly and easily agree on the best solution to a problem.  With the resolution in sight, the representative would thank the customer for their time and understanding.  The customer would in turn thank the representative for their great service.  Unfortunately, things seldom go this smoothly when there is a problem.

It is important to understand what motivates both parties to insure a successful customer service interaction.  In the situation of a customer who is calling a company with a complaint or problem, their motivation is probably to get the problem fixed.  They desire a sympathetic ear from someone who will acknowledge their right to feel bad about the problem.  They want to feel like the person on the other end of the phone, and thus the company, cares about their problem and is sorry for their inconvenience.  They want assurance that this will never happen to them again.  The customer service representative’s motivation is more complicated.  They desire to do a good job representing their company.  Hopefully, they desire a sense of accomplishment that comes with making customers happy.  Selfishly, they may just desire to get through the day and do their job without unhappy customers taking out their frustration on them.

Both parties would benefit from looking at the other person’s perspective.  How do you like to be treated when you are an unhappy customer?  Understand that the caller has likely spent precious time going through an automated phone system or being on hold before they finally get to you, so make up for that lost time with extra care.  Conversely, if you are calling with a complaint, try to treat the person who answers the phone with civility.  Remember the saying, “You catch more flies with honey.”  Don’t hold them personally responsible for the problem.

Companies should equip and train their customer service representatives to understand the customer’s emotions during the process of fixing the problem.  For instance, a personal touch can make a caller feel valued and appreciated.  “I see you have been a customer for 8 years, Mr. Smith,” may be just the statement the caller needs to feel like the company cares about him.  Satisfy his desire to be treated like a VIP or his desire to be given something in exchange for his loyal business, and the representative can turn an unhappy caller back into a satisfied customer.

“The most effective way for a business to analyze and define your customers’ needs is to talk to them.”  At NBRI, we believe the best way to find out what your customers think is with a customer service survey.  We will help you establish a new customer service plan based on the results of the initial survey.  Then, we recommend that you re-survey periodically to gauge the success of your improvement initiatives. Contact us today to learn more about the psychology of your customers.

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