Getting Down on the Floor with your Customer

My son was hospitalized when he was 12 years old.  He had a dangerous infection that required two emergency surgeries to drain the build-up in an attempt to keep the infection from getting into his bone.

I will never forget the heartbreaking moan of pain he made when the orderlies were moving him from the gurney onto his bed after his second surgery.  It was a sound no mother should ever have to hear.  I broke down.  I slid down the wall, onto the floor, unable to stand, my arms wrapped around my legs, tears streaming down my face.

I will also never forget the kindness and compassion demonstrated by one of the nurses. She got down on the floor with me. She put her arm around me shoulder and she comforted me.

She did not have to do that. That was outside of her scope of duties and yet, she did.  Her compassion and her kindness moved her beyond friendly, efficiency to an outstanding example of what service is truly about.

The majority of service professionals don’t deal with fear, anger and confusion at the same heightened levels as medical professionals do.  But in any business, customers arrive with certain expectations and emotion is always attached to expectation. When an expectation, a want, a desire is not met, disappointment is felt. Some policies leave us confused, scratching our heads, wondering who in the world thought that one up.

Our customers are emotional creatures and the best service providers are those who have the ability to recognize and connect to the emotion.  They may not be able to fix the problem; they may not have a magic wand to make everything okay, but service professionals who are willing to get outside of their own world and step into their customer’s world, create experiences that are never forgotten.

Perhaps, in addition to asking candidates to describe a time when they had to handle a customer complaint, we should also ask them why they thought the customer was unhappy or angry or disappointed.  That answer would provide some insight into how they view others.  Are they judgmental?  Are they able to see past the obvious “he had to wait too long”?

Good customer service providers are friendly, they are efficient and they are knowledgeable.  They know how and what to say. There is very little they do wrong.  Great customer service providers take it one step further. They see themselves and their business from the customer’s shoes.  They are willing to get down on the floor with their customer.

I don’t think that can be taught.  What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Getting Down on the Floor with your Customer

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