I was pulling into my office this morning when I heard a Zappos commercial on the radio. The purchaser told the customer service representative she had to return merchandise she received yesterday because she was "emotionally unable to handle" the new dress she just purchased and had not touched the box, and had left it lying in the garage. The pleasant voice on the Zappos end assured her that she could return the dress, and there would be no delivery or return charges; just that the customer would have to "touch" the box to return it.
That clever advertisement is the positive mode of customer service, and "if wishes were horses, beggars would ride." We need to foster better attitudes with employees who think dissatisfied customers are the problem. I think we all have been in a position when we just didn't want the item we purchased, but at times have been forced to lie when returning it. When employees get nervous, defensive, and confused while managing customers, the lack of skills can only result in a loss of customers; thus the loss of revenue. Do we always need an excuse to return something, and will the customer service agent respect our decision? Therefore each organization needs a clear and concise company ethos, and clear organizational training and discussions to help employees interact with customers to enhance the customer experience. I always suggest role-playing; it's fun and effective. Take the worst examples that could happen, and practice different solutions. Help employees resolve problems, but give them the proper tools.
The customer service staff should also be able to deal with the inherent human condition where we need to always be right. We tend to look for evidence that proves how right we are, but if an employee unconsciously reacts to this way of thinking, that is paramount to a breakdown of communication. Even if we say that we are having a difference of opinion or agree to disagree, the customer may perceive she is wrong; that unfortunately is a free pass to our competition. Senior staff and trainers need to remind all service representatives that customers are the top priority. Sometimes it isn't clear. Training, role-playing, and practice help employees communicate positively to work out satisfactory resolutions.
Finally, we as trainers or company owners need to encourage personal growth, and find the connection which helps our employees to use their jobs and identify their own values. It should never be, "just a job" because we will have loss that connection to the customer as well as to the employee. We want to listen to employees, gain their trust, treat them fairly, and give them all the tools to encourage positive customer relationships; even if the woman needs to return the dress she was emotionally unable to accept.