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.
AA reply-2.jpg

This was their reply seconds later.
AA reply.jpg

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).

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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