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Polite is A Moving Target

Reading a post over at Signal vs. Noise about overly polite customer service reminds me that polite is a moving target. Whether a customer service rep is polite or rude is in the mind of the customer not the script or training of the CSR. Some customers want all business in their transactions some want 90% socializing and 10% business. Most are somewhere in between.

The key is not to respond with blanket training and scripting trying to hit courteous or polite. Train customer intuition into your front-line staff. Teach cultural differences, geographical differences, political differences, racial differences, religious differences and any other relevant category differentiation that's relevant to your customer base. Teach the cues that can help you read a person and better communicate with them.

Armed with some understanding of who people are and what their world view is, your people can better communicate and build relationships with customers and prospects.

For example: If I meet someone new and discover through their cues (i.e. age, accent, word pronunciation, tone of voice, etc.) that they are from the south I am going to ask them different questions and show them respect in different ways than someone from the northeast. I am certainly going to ask them how they and their family have been impacted by Hurricane Katrina.

You could train sales people to strictly adhere to the scripts or you could train your sales people to be expert people readers and be ready to adapt on the fly to the many cues their customers and prospects are putting out there. Cues about who they are that can be utilized to build better relationships and better communication. Which do you think would work better?

SvN: Customer Service That's Too Polite

Thinking About Customer Service

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September 16, 2005 in award winning newsletter, Award winning publications, Blog Outsourcing, Brand enhancement, build credibility, Building Customer Community, Business newsletter | Permalink


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Very insightful post on how we should get employees to be intutive. Excellent points brought out beautifully. This clearly has implications on a great brand experience. The difference is empathy, understanding, listening that one gains to manage customers better.

The questions that I always have

a.Can the power of intution be taught to
people? Sure yes, but how do we rank employees
on this to train them better?
b.How do we measure intution quotient of
c.Intution comes from deep within if you have
"own" the problem. How do you inculcate this
in the teams that we work with?

Posted by: Sivaraman Swaminathan | Sep 17, 2005 8:35:15 AM