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Friday, March 7, 2014

Throw the Book at Bad Customer Service! Learn from a TV Judge

My Grandma Lou watched a lot of television the final few years she lived alone in her home.  It seemed that there was always some judge on TV quickly deciding the fates of those who were willing to bring their case to a public forum.  (Incidentally, why people would pick a public forum for some of these cases, I have no idea!) 

Judy, Alex, Joe, Marilyn, among a slew of the 21 judges listed on Wikipedia, come into our living rooms and in 15 minutes decipher and deliver a verdict that gets both parties on the road.  As service professionals, we could learn from the judges’ techniques in dealing with escalated and complicated situations. 

Get to the Point

One thing judges shut down quickly is unnecessary details provided by the participants.  The judge will ask a question to the plaintiff or defendant, and if the party does not directly answer the question, the judge immediately puts it to a stop.  They use language similar to, “That’s not what I asked.  Answer my question!”  The human condition tells us the more we explain, the more solid we make our case, but it is rarely true.  The more we explain, the more difficult it is to define the correct solution.

In the service world, when a customer starts to ramble, gently interrupt them and put them back on point. “Thank you for that information, and can you please answer [insert question]?”   I have found the more closed questions, that require an A or B type answer, are the most effective.

Open questions are good when the customer is upset.  This usually gives the customer the emotional space they need to work through the issue, and then the service representative can start problem solving.

They Know Their Product

This I love, love, love, about TV judges!  Their confidence in their subject matter shines through whatever they say.  The participants do not question their authority, because the judge’s authority is self-evident.  They do not stutter.  They do not say qualifying phrases. They speak concrete sentences in such a tone that the participants take their answer as final.  The judges can do this because of their years of experience as litigators and as judges.  But even with the ever changing legal system, they stay current.   They know their product.

In the service world this would seem easy, as most products and services are way less complicated than contemporary law.  But I’ve rarely found that I fully believe a representative’s answer.   They do not have the same level of confidence, because they do not know their product.

This is easy enough to fix through constant and continuous education.  I’m not talking formal training sessions; truth be told only part of the learning magic occurs in a formal environment.  I am talking about making learning informal, an everyday, in-between customer interaction activity.  Help the representatives build their confidence.  Even if they know their product, they can read up on the competitors.   How powerful would it to hear a representative say, “I just read this on our company website. Did you know…?”  

Throw the Book at Them

Ok, so don’t throw the book at your customers or your representatives.   But do help your organization and representatives do a better job, by streamlining your customer interactions using some of the techniques of TV judges. Develop them to get to the point and speak with confidence.  The verdict?  Your organization should receive fewer callbacks and improve customer service scores. 

Case dismissed!

1 comment:

  1. Some very excellent points! I was just trying to illustrate this with our new agents yesterday. I think this a perfect analogy for the topic.