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May 11, 2018

A Customer Service Training Example From Four Seasons Hotels: Working With An Upset Customer

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Call Center in Mexico If you want to see great customer service recovery in action, watch closely as a manager at a Four Seasons hotel fields a complaint from an unhappy guest. In the case I’m going to share with you, a guest approached the manager to explain her unhappiness with how an employee had interacted with her earlier in the day at the hotel. After describing what had gone down, this (exceedingly polite) guest took pains to append a disclaimer: ‘‘Of course, your employee may have a different perspective from mine on how this went down.”

The Four Seasons manager’s response:

‘‘Mrs.____, as far as we’re concerned, there’s only one perspective that matters.’’

I often tell this story (in my customer service training workshops and as a keynote speaker), even years after it happened, because this exchange at Four Seasons exemplifies a key element of customer service recovery: the proper way to respond to customer opinions and emotions in the heat of the moment.  At times like this, when a customer is upset and is describing to you the cause (as they see it) of that upset, the primary perspective that matters to you, if you want to stay in business, has to be that the customer’s. Even when what you’re hearing is arguably a misperception on the part of that customer, you need to patiently hear the customer out. Because, to your customer, their perception feels like reality.

I should note that companies sometimes misapprehend this sentiment and take it to mean that the feelings of your employees don’t matter. They matter enormously. They matter because:

  • Employees are human beings, and treating humans humanely is part of our obligation as leaders.
  • How employees feel affects, consciously or unconsciously, their treatment of customers.
 However, the goal in customer service recovery is not to achieve balance–a meeting in the middle–between the employee and customer perspectives. It’s to assimilate the perspective of the customer, to take it on (at least momentarily) as your own. When you achieve this, when you manage to see things from the customer’s perspective, you’ll be most fully able to assist the customer. And you’ll probably have learned something in the process.

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If you’re interested in reading more about customer service recovery, I have a (free) point-by-point customer service recovery process I can send your way: my proprietary AWARE (Acknowledge-Widen-Agree-Restate-Evaluate) method. If you’d like a printout of the AWARE method of customer service recovery, to guide your interactions with customers, please let me know and I’ll hook you up right away.

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Source:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2018/05/10/the-perspective-need-when-a-customer-is-upset-a-customer-service-training-example-from-four-seasons/#732b97706d8b

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