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Stop Lecturing, Start Connecting With Valued Customers

Have you ever felt like a customer service rep was talking AT you rather than WITH you?

It’s hard to feel like a valued customer when a conversation turns into a lecture.

I still think about this one frustrating call I had.

It was in the morning. I was rushing out the door to work when I realized I had forgotten to take out my trash. The garbage truck was down the street.

I ran to my garage, grabbed my trash can, and called the garbage company. I explained to the employee on the other end that their truck was on my street, and I had forgotten to take out my trash. I asked if someone could call the driver and tell him not to leave the neighborhood before he picked up my trash.

The employee said she couldn’t, and she began lecturing me. She went on and on about the company’s policies, telling me I was late putting my trash out, and repeating everything she couldn’t do for me.

My body immediately tensed up. I had already said it was my mistake. I wasn’t trying to put the blame on anyone else. So, I asked to speak to her supervisor who was even less helpful.

And guess what?

I ended up cancelling my service.

I lost a garbage collector that day, but I gained something too – a better understanding of how to connect with customers.

Words are powerful! Everything you say to someone is either creating a connection or disconnection. When I heard the garbage company employee say “No” and “I can’t” and lecture me on the company’s policies, I immediately put on my boxing gloves!

That phone call drove home for me how important it is to put yourself in your customers' shoes.

Think about how you would you feel if someone was talking over you, reciting company policy, and repeating what you should have done. What words would make you feel heard and valued? On top of that, how loyal would you to be to a company that made you feel bad every time you called in?

To really connect with concerned customers, clients, or even employees – and avoid driving them away – let them know you hear their concerns and you feel for them.

I get that when a company is putting pressure on you to move on to the next call it can be hard to make every customer feel valued. That’s why validating is so important. Just a few words can help the call feel more like a conversation and less like a lecture.

That morning, just hearing the words “I know this is frustrating” or “I’d really like to help you," would have made me feel so much better.

Just imagine how powerful these words could be with the people you interact with.

When someone brings you a concern or complaint, how do you plant the seeds for a positive outcome and connect with that person? Do you have any go-to phrases for making people feel heard? I’d love to hear about it!

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