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answered.  You  must  decide  how  you  will  answer, Examine the following choices: l You can give the customer the answer he or she wants to hear even though you know that it is not completely   accurate.   (This   will   certainly guarantee disappointment to the customer later on and  degrade  your  own  professional  competence.) l You can make some vague statements and let the customer interpret them as he or she likes. (This may let you off the hook because you really did not give the customer wrong information. In fact, you really did not give your customer much of anything.) l You can give the customer the correct information or  interpretation  now.  (This,  of  course,  may  cause some grumbling because it may not be the answer the customer wants to hear.) It will, however, be the truth and, in the long run, your customer will understand and appreciate being told the truth. The bottom line is “anything less than the best information you can offer is unfair to the customer.” A half-truth may be just as misleading and damaging as an outright lie. Future plans may be based on your “bum dope,” and the morale, as well as the finances, of the customer may suffer because of it. We have emphasized time and time again that if you  do  not  have  the  answer  to  a  customer’s  question, find out who does. Just because you ask another person about an answer does not mean that you are any less competent.  On  the  other  hand,  it  shows  your  concern for obtaining correct information. Remember that you are not expected to have all the answers, but you are expected to know where to find them. The  friendly  attitude  displayed  by  a  customer service  representative  who  tells  half-truths  or  misleads customers is not friendliness at all. It is nothing more than a cover-up for the real attitude of unconcern. GOING BEYOND YOUR REALM If you seldom make a mistake, you may find it difficult to understand why other people frequently make more mistakes. Mistakes can result from many different situations. For example, heavy workloads, inexperienced personnel, unfamiliar situations, and carelessness  can  all  contribute  to  the  likelihood  of errors. Errors may disappear, but they do not go away. The  problem  with  all  errors  is  that  they  must  be corrected—often  at  some  later  date,  at  a  different command, or by someone else. When you have to correct an error that someone else made, you will be tempted to “sound off” about the person who made the mistake. But whether or not you express your feeling, you must spend the same amount of effort correcting the error. It is proper to tell your customer that a mistake was made and explain the conditions—where and when—the error was made, Although you may feel embarrassed to explain to your customer that a mistake was made by your office, you nevertheless must do this as soon as the problem is identified.  Appropriate  steps  must  be  taken  to  correct the problem immediately. If the problem was made by another office, correct it promptly. In both cases, there is no need to “cry over spilled milk.” Just correct the problem. Another area in which we sometimes overstep our bounds  is  expressing  criticism  or  disapproval  of official Navy policy, command policy, and divisional procedures and instructions. You do not have to agree with all of them. In fact, discussing them among your co-workers  can  have  positive  results—a  change  in procedures,  a  better  flow  of  information,  a  better understanding  of  policy,  or  the  improved  ability  to  help the  customer.  Expressing  your  adverse  opinion  about them  to  the  customer,  however,  serves  no  good purpose. When  a  customer  requests  something  that  must  be denied  because  of  current  policy  or  regulations, frustration and resentment are natural reactions. If you express  your  disapproval  or  criticism  of  this  policy  or regulation,  it  only  serves  to  increase  the  feeling  of resentment or frustration in the customer. You have not  helped.  You  have  just  made  it  harder  for  the customer to accept the inevitable answer. On the other hand, if you know the policy is a temporary matter, or if you have reason to believe a change is contemplated, it  is  permissible—in fact, it is desirable—for you to explain this so that the customer may renew the request later. You may have some customers whose problems are only imaginary. They want to complain about their petty  officers,  division  officers,  duty  assignments, working conditions, or the holes in their pants. In these situations, you must maintain a very careful balance. You should not refuse to hear them out. There should be a point, however, when you must politely tell them that you wish you could stay there and listen, but that you have some important matters to attend to. 1-20

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