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 customers attitude or manner of
speaking. In this situation, it is usually best to keep the
contact as impersonal as possible. Ignore the persons
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
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 customers
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 customers need before it is completely
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 carefullywhether 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 furtherMake 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.
Occasionally, you may experience an adverse
reaction to a customerto 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 customers 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 customers attitude begins to provoke a negative
reaction from you. This is sometimes done
unconsciously. You may not think much about your