Originally written in Aug 2017. Re-edited for clarity.
“𝒀𝒐𝒖 𝒏𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝒖𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒂 𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒐𝒏 𝒖𝒏𝒕𝒊𝒍 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒔𝒊𝒅𝒆𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒔 𝒇𝒓𝒐𝒎 𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒑𝒐𝒊𝒏𝒕 𝒐𝒇 𝒗𝒊𝒆𝒘.“ ~ Atticus Finch
I’ve worked in Customer Service for over 9 years now. And no matter how many customers I’ve worked with, no matter how many job positions I’ve had, there is always one thing I’ve found necessary to succeed in this department:
You have to be open to understanding other people’s points of view. 💯
One of those jobs included being a Cashier Supervisor at a retail shore. Throughout the years, our store had its share of unique customers walk through our entrances. But one night there was this one gentleman who entered and approached a fellow cashier asking to exchange an item. 💱
As a standard response, the cashier was quick to inform the customer he could hold onto his item until he found the correct item he wanted to exchange it for. So the customer started to walk away…and suddenly without warning he turned around! 😲
He marched right back up to the cashier and demanded to speak with a manager.
I was at the register next to this cashier when I heard this happening, and when I heard the customer’s demand I stepped in. 👣
At first, my cashier attempted to explain what was going on, but the customer kept interrupting him and only continued to get more defensive. While I didn’t really understand what was going on, my gut told me the situation was only going to escalate and I needed to defuse it. 😬
I calmly informed the cashier I was going to assist the customer and asked him to watch the registers for a moment. I came out from behind the counter and heard the gentlemen out, making sure his focus was entirely placed on me and no longer on the cashier. The customer wasn’t feeling heard, and while the cashier had good intentions there was a misunderstanding around what the customer actually wanted.
After asking some questions, I found out why he was angry: his expectation upon entering the store was that he’d find an associate who would offer him assistance to find the item he was looking for. In addition, he told me he was unsure he’d even find the item by himself, and the nervousness I heard in his voice reinforced that. 😨
𝐒𝐨 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐬𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐦𝐲 𝐜𝐚𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞, 𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐞𝐫’𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠. 𝐍𝐨 𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐫 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐦𝐞𝐭, 𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐨𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐝𝐞. 😡
Another important point I want to when dealing with angry customers: They all have a story to tell, and more often than not they just want you to listen, to tell you why they are angry. Don’t make assumptions; figure out what they need. 🙌
In the case of this gentleman, he needed reassurance that someone could and would help him. So became my mission for the next 15 minutes!
To conclude, we found out the item he wanted wasn’t available in the store. But staying proactive (and also desiring to communicate to the customer that I cared), I checked our online store and found we could ship it to him. Success! Mission accomplished! 🏆
Before we parted, he gave a sincere “Thank you!” and initiated me to shake his hand. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was shocked; this was a completely different man from the one I had met fifteen minutes earlier. It felt very rewarding to be a part of it! 😊
But here’s the thing: this idea about trying to understand other people’s perspectives is not limited to Customer Service either. You can use this tool in your own life! In developing this skill, you not only open your mind but also open your heart. ❤️
In regards to understanding, I’ll leave this entry with this: