In Germany we have the saying „the customer is the king“ which we use in the sense of „the customer is always right – and the customer service reps have no rights“. We fear to lose a deal if we contradict a customer and it might happen indeed. But do we ever consider what this mindset does to the customer service reps?
We want our customer service reps to deliver perfect service and have fun doing it. We want them to be on par with their customers and to be confident. At best a customer service rep has the power to change the things a customer is complaining about. Can they deliver all this with the mindset „The deal is more important to my company than I am?“. I honestly don’t think they can.
Most customers are friendly and honest and just want their question answered. Most angry customers are matter-of-factly and just want their problem to be worked on. But in really rare cases customers may seek their advantage by not telling the truth or even might be abusive. All new people in my team are told one simple thing. If that happens to you, you have the right to tell the customer that you will not work with him on this basis. You don’t need to play games pretending that the phone line is bad, that you can’t understand him. You also don’t need to pretend that his e-mail never arrived. You are allowed to let the customer know that he misbehaved. I empower them to protect themselves.
None of my team ever used this power, but I did in one case. Believe me, it made me feel better than any pretense of a bad phone line could have done. And best of all was to have my boss backing me up. I hope I will never again be in a similar situation but if I was I will be glad to have this option.