Customer serviceCustomer Service is a delicate balancing act, especially if the client is clearly unhappy. Customer service personnel face this problem and struggle with how to handle ‘difficult’ customers.

One important tip is to realize that there are three possible causes for customer dissatisfaction:

Three possible causes of customer problems:

1. Your organization is wrong and the customer is right.

2. The customer is wrong.

3. There is a gray area of genuine misunderstanding, where both parties think they are right and hit an impass!

When you are wrong:

In the case where your organization is wrong, the response is simple. Ensure you understand the customer’s issue fully and then respond in as quickly and efficiently.

When the customer is wrong:

Where the customer is clearly wrong, a much more difficult process needs to be undertaken. Focus on fixing the customer’s problem, if you can, while avoiding the ‘fixing of blame’. No customer likes to feel like they are wrong. So this part of the discussion needs the most skills. One of the most important strategies to ensure the customer ‘saves face’. Make the service experience feel like a partnership between friends rather than confrontational (i.e.  you did wrong). No one likes to feel like they are wrong so it is important to train customer service personnel in the psychology of leading customers to conclude that it was their problem  (when appropriate) and trying to help be seen as part of the solution, not part of making the problem worse.

When there is a misunderstanding:

Misunderstanding can and do arise in longer running contacts and services. In the purchasing process, the purchaser may think they understand the products and services being purchased and the sellers may think they understand the customer needs. Despite the best efforts of both the supplier and the customer, there are bound to be some contractual obligations that will be gray areas of understanding. Ensure, during the sales process, there is acknowledgment of the possibility of gray areas coming up and a process in place to handle them.


Customer satisfaction with your service organization is dependent on resolving customer problems. If the customer is wrong, ensure not to assign blame. Try to ensure the emotional well being of your callers. When they are misunderstandings, both sides need to negotiate in good faith.



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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

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