I was only trying to order something….
Time to beat the customer service drum again.
Customers! They can drive you nuts. They screw things up and blame us. When that happens it’s very easy to throw the blame back at the customer…in a nice way of course.
Here’s an important concept to teach your people. It’s called “the curse of knowledge.” It means that we, people in business, know more about our business than our customers. Because we know so much about our business, we are blinded by what our customers do not know. When they blame us for their mistakes our reaction is toss the blame back onto the dummies that caused the problem—the customer.
Here’s an example. A customer tries to order something online and clicks the “add to cart” button. Nothing happens. So he clicks again. Then again. Finally he decides to just “go to check out” where discovers 15 of the same item in his cart. He changes the quantity to 1 and hits proceed without first clicking the “revise quantities” button. Now he sees YOU are trying to sell him 15 items and he only wants 1. He also sees a huge shipping charge because of the 15 items in his cart and now YOUR system wants his credit card number! So, he calls your toll free number and reads the riot act to your service rep. Your rep pleasantly and cheerfully replies, “sir, you failed to click the revise quantities button. Go back and try that and it will recalculate your total. Is there anything else I can help you with?”
I’ve got news for you. The customer’s problem is YOUR problem and the customer didn’t “fail” to do anything. You failed to make the revise quantities button big and obvious enough for even an idiot to see.
But the knowledge curse was in play here. It’s so obvious to your rep, who deals with this stuff all day, that he cannot understand how anyone can be that stupid. And that sentiment slips out.
Here’s a better way. TEACH your reps to NEVER say the customer is wrong or failed to do anything. “Sir, I’m sorry you had that experience. Online shopping can be frustrating. If you’re still online I can walk you through the transaction or I can take your order now and save you the steps of entering the order online.”
Most of the time the reps will say something like that but many times there is a little hint of “you’re the one that screwed up.” Make certain to totally eliminate any subtle hint that the customer was wrong for doing business with you. Remember the curse of knowledge. The customer may be alerting you to a blind spot that your knowledge prevents you from seeing.
Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog