Every one of us has been less than polite in certain situations. Yes, keeping our cool is important, but not everyone can stay in control when they feel that someone is being unfair or failing to pay attention to their concerns. For example, your order at the restaurant took far too long to deliver, or the customer service agent was unwilling to waive a late fee even though our payment was tardy by just a couple of hours.
Sticking with Policy
For a business process to succeed, policy is important. For example, an airline company will train its customer service agents to follow policy, and escalate any issues that warrant a closer eye. Therefore, when you call the agent to discuss a situation, you can expect them to stick with policy. You can talk until you are blue in the face, but they are not going to change their minds. They have trained responses, and that is the bottom line.
The problem with policy is its inherent inflexibility. A canned response is insufficient to handle all situations. There must be times when an agent can make an exception, and it shouldn’t always be escalated. To make this happen, they must be trained and empowered to act.
The Rude Approach
A customer is rude when he crosses the line and insults the employee, such as:
- “You are incompetent, and your company is plain stupid!”
- “I can’t even understand what you are saying! Do you speak English?”
- “I refuse to talk to stupid people! Since you are stupid, transfer to me a manager who can help me. I do hope he is not dumb like you!”
It is wrong to cross this line. Even if you get your way, you violate the principle of treating others like you would like to be treated. Despite believing the situation is unfair, you must avoid this tactic.
The Frustrated Approach
A customer can express frustration by saying the following:
- “I’ve called several times over the past week to reconcile this issue, and it seems like no one is working on it. Will you please make sure the right person is assigned to it?”
- “I understand the late payment policy, but I wanted to see if you could waive it. I’ve made my payments timely for more than three years, and this is an unusual occurrence.”
- “The online system is not working correctly. When I submitted payment last night, I was charged twice. It’s imperative that I receive reimbursement right away because the $1,500 charge is showing up twice at my bank. I hope you understand the urgency of this matter.”
I’m of the opinion that you must stand your ground, and you need to fight for what you believe is right. There are times when you will take the hit, but in many situations, negotiations will take place. You are more likely to resolve the matter in a positive manner when you are professional. Just as important, you will feel better about managing the situation in a professional manner.