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The Importance of Context in Customer Service

In customer service, how you say something is 800 million times more important than what you say. I am so blown away at how personally people take their jobs – or not even that, but how they take inquiries as a personal offense. Check out this response I saw to a customer inquiry in the comments section of a blog:

“Anita, we’ll try to help you—but you have to help yourself. Books have been written about growing tomatoes, and we’ve condensed decades (nay, centuries!) of advice into this website. Here are some pages to explore, note, and return to regularly. As your plant grows, you may need/want to repot it. You might need/want to stake it. You need to give it lots of sunshine and water it regularly. Here is some advice on doing so. Welcome to the garden!”

First off, what a slap-in-the-face statement. She is helping herself! That’s exactly why Anna read your article & commented! In my opinion, this would be a missed opportunity because of how backhanded it is. You begin by belittling the customer & telling them to basically suck it up. Then talk about how much work has been put into the website, the vast amounts of knowledge available, yada, yada, blah, blah, Me, Me, Me. THEN they go on to being helpful by providing links to basic, helpful info. THEN they offer simple, basic, helpful knowledge. THEN it is “Welcome to the garden!”.

This is what a little perspective does.

“Anita, welcome to the garden! Here are some pages to explore, note, and return to regularly. As your plant grows, you may need/want to repot it. You might need/want to stake it. You need to give it lots of sunshine and water it regularly. We hope this helps, but there are other resources as well. Books have been written about growing tomatoes, and we’ve condensed decades (nay, centuries!) of advice into this website. Here is some advice on doing so.”

You can just about read that first response backwards and it makes it a little less severe. But this is the perspective you need in Customer Service! Just look at those 2 words. Customer (not you). Service. Period.

Perhaps this is a little bit of a rant, but brands need to be conscious; they need to realize they’re dealing with people, not just tasks & notifications. We all need to realize that we are not just dealing with customers, clients, leads, patients – we are working with people. 

And maybe I’m being hyper-sensitive on this! I would love to hear your thoughts on this – comment & let me know what you think!

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