Why Customer services agents shouldn’t ask how they can help.

A bad day had just gotten worse. My flight out of Springfield Mo had been delayed because of what I felt was staff incompetence. New FFA rules were blamed on the plane being delayed because ground crew needed more rest time.

De-icing a plane

Instead of redeeming the time, the plane was only de-iced after we pulled back from the gate, 30 minutes late. Meaning that I missed my connection in Chicago. I was on standby for the next flight but not real happy.

@Tweeting  someone these days is the fastest way to get customer service. No one wants their reputation ruined. Within seconds of mentioning American Airlines in a tweet, their customer service team wrote back.
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This was their reply seconds later.
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That was impressive. So was the offer to help. Unfortunately, the offer was empty. They couldn’t help. They couldn’t get me on that plane. It was already full. (Disclaimer: I got on the flight just fine, but 3 hours before did not know how it would work out).
Tweets

Customer service is coached to ask “How can I help you?” Then when the customer asks for something the representative can’t do, you are at an impasse.I had a boss one time who frequently asked “Let me know if I can help you in any way.” The couple times I reached out and he couldn’t help, well, I just stopped asking. The offer was sincere, but wasn’t phrased properly.

I suggest that HR change their trainnig. Don’t ask “How can I help you today?” but rather “ Tell me the reason for contacting us today.” Then, if you can’t help, a simple “I’m sorry, please excuse us” will suffice. But if you offer to help, and you can’t, then you’ve begun the conversation with a customer by lying to them.

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3 thoughts on “Why Customer services agents shouldn’t ask how they can help.”

  1. When I worked in the business field we had a system called LAST. It was an acrostic for Listen, Apologize, Solve, and Thank. It was an awesome tool that left the customer feeling encouraged and empowered by the conversation. I won more ‘lifelong’ customers doing this than I can remember. Sometimes people just want to be heard.
    Good message Charles!

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