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Figure 1-9.—An angry customer and an angry PN will produce  a  bigger  problem
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Your Response Earlier  we  discussed  your  attitudes  toward customers, but we were thinking about customers in general. It is not difficult to be pleasant when you are dealing  with  pleasant  people.  It  may  become  more difficult when the person is unpleasant. Occasionally, you will have a customer who just seems to rub people the wrong way. No matter how hard you try, you cannot remain pleasant or friendly because  of  the  customer’s  attitude  or  manner  of speaking. In this situation, it is usually best to keep the contact  as  impersonal  as  possible.  Ignore  the  person’s manner and attitude and concentrate on the problem. It will be difficult, but it can be done. Your performance will be viewed by the customer, your co-workers, and your supervisor. If you are to do your best work, as rated by them, you must maintain your self-control. When patience runs out and tempers flare, your ability to think and act properly is greatly reduced.   Be   a   professional   customer   service representative  and  think  before  you  act  ! PITFALLS TO AVOID IN CUSTOMER SERVICE In the previous section we discussed why a good attitude is important to customer satisfaction. We will now  talk  about  some  specific  mistakes  PNs  can  make in their handling of customer needs. For the most part, these mistakes will tend to result from any attitudes you  project  toward  the  customer,  the  customer’s problem, the Navy, your job, or yourself. LEAPING TO CONCLUSIONS Leaping  to  a  conclusion  means  that,  in  your opinion,  you  already  possess  sufficient  facts  upon which to base your judgment. As a result, you end up ignoring   additional   information   provided   by   the customer. This tendency is often caused by a lack of concern for the customer and the desire to end the contact  as  quickly  as  possible.  It  may  also  occur because  you  normally  have  abetter  knowledge  of  your field  than  does  the  customer,  and  you  may  assume  that you know the customer’s need before it is completely expressed. In   routine   situations,   you   may   be   able   to second-guess your customers’ needs. This practice can even save time. Under other conditions, however, it can lead to misunderstanding. When you make this assumption, you quit listening and begin to form your response to the customer. As a result, you may miss an important part of the problem and be unable to provide correct  service  because  of  your  misunderstanding. If a customer has a vague idea as to the nature of a problem, you should not jump to conclusions. This does not help the customer. You should use tactful, skillful  questioning  to  properly  identify  what  the customer is trying to tell you. Any decision that affects the customer must be made carefully—whether it is made by you or by the customer. It is your responsibility to make sure all the facts are known before the decision is made. You have surely heard the excuse, “But he told me. . . .” The customer  may  be  misled  by  rumor  or  half-truths,  and you  may  not  be  able  to  do  anything  to  correct  the misconception.  “Look  before  you  leap”  is  good  advice, but you must carry it a step further—“Make sure the customer looks before you let him or her leap.” It is your responsibility as a PN to listen carefully to the customer before you reach any conclusions. It is also your  responsibility  to  give  out  correct  information. Always find out the correct answer from the sources available. It is very frustrating to customers when they receive incorrect information. The customers do not like  it,  and  your  supervisors  will  not  like  it  either ‘because it will reflect on them. If you give out bad information, customers may blame your errors on your lack  of  training.  Remember  also  that  your  supervisor will not like to appear incompetent. PERSONAL  REACTIONS Occasionally,  you  may  experience  an  adverse reaction  to  a  customer—to  his  or  her  appearance, speech, or attitude. Because of your reaction, you may not be able to provide the quality of service that the customer needs or deserves. Most often, the cause of your  adverse  reaction  will  be  the  customer’s  attitude. When the customer is overbearing, cynical, or has a smart mouth, it may be difficult for you to maintain a professional  manner.  Nevertheless,  you  must  remain professional. Customers who have bad attitudes are also individuals who deserve the same courtesy and respect  as  nice  and  courteous  individuals. One experience that may be difficult for you, the PN,  is  to  try  to  help  a  customer  who  expresses  an extreme dislike for the Navy. Do not be surprised if this  customer’s  attitude  begins  to  provoke  a  negative reaction   from   you.   This   is   sometimes   done unconsciously. You may not think much about your 1-15

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