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What I Learnt About Customer Service From My Mom’s Experience

If I had put a gun in her hand, she would have shot the first person she met at the office. She was furious. She took an off day from her job and went to give the insurance guys a piece of her mind…How dare they cheat her of her hard earned money? Today they would know they messed with the wrong woman!

When she arrived at the company, she stormed right into the manager’s office and without bothering to say hi, she stormed right into her detailed monologue of a complaint - she was threatening to pull out of the insurance plan and she was threatening to take legal action. The manager of the insurance firm sat back and listened without interrupting. He ignored his urgent phone call or his tight schedule and just sat there to listen to the ranting client. When the client had vented enough anger and had to stop primarily because she needed to take a breath before launching the next assault, the manager spoke for the first time…and his first words took her completely by surprise.

“Would you like a cup of tea?”

Of course not! She wouldn’t like a cup of tea. She wanted answers. She wanted her money back. She wanted vengeance. A cup of tea was the last thing she wanted. But the manager insisted.

“It looks like we might be here for quite a while so we might as well share a cup of tea as we discuss this”

Whatever. The client thought. Serve the tea and let’s get this sorted out as soon as yesterday. So the manager served her a cup of tea and they continued with the conversation. To cut the long story short, by the time the client walked out of that office, the manager had managed to convert her from a disgruntled client into a versatile sales agent for the insurance company. This is a true story. I know because my mom was the client in question. When she narrated the story to me, I couldn’t help but be awed by the great customer service that the manager displayed.

Customer care / service is just that - caring for and serving the customer. So how did the manager do it?

  1. He didn’t delegate

There was a customer care desk. The easier thing was to send the mad client to the desk for assistance. However, the manager decided to take it upon himself to calm the client down and try to work out an amicable solution. The last thing a mad client wants is to be shoved hither and thither from one office to another.

  1. He empathised

When he offered her a cup of tea, it was a gesture that he was not just a sympathiser, he was an empathiser. You don’t share a cup of tea with an enemy but with a friend. It was a subtle gesture that the manager didn’t consider her the enemy and wanted to help.

  1. He listened

He didn’t interrupt her verbal display of discontent. He just sat back and gave her audience. I recall calling a call centre for help and got a “know it all” customer care representative on the other end. He assumed he knew wanted I wanted to ask before I even asked it. I hang up on him and moved to the competitor.

  1. He gave a solution

After listening to the client, the manager gave her a solution. He discussed the solution with her until they came to an amicable end.

  1. He recruited her

He didn’t just stop at solving her problem - he gave her an opportunity to join the company on part time basis and make some passive income. And who wouldn’t want to be part of an organisation that cares for her clients?

I finish with John Maxwell’s quote: people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.


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