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Page Title: Giving the Amiable Runaround
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customer  rejects  your  offer  of  friendliness,  it  is  the customer’s   loss—not   yours.   Friendliness   is   not   a commodity  that  will  experience  extinction,  so  share  it freely. Hostility and anxiety reduce the customer’s ability to see a problem fully, to express it correctly, and to accept the solution objectively. If you respond in kind, you reduce your ability to deal with the problem. When the customer is emotionally upset, you must deal  with  two  problems—the  emotion  and  the  need  that aroused   the   emotion.   Nothing   can   be   gained   by responding in kind to the customer’s mood. In fact, such a response will probably make matters worse. Instead, try to calm the customer by being calm yourself. Show by your actions that you are ready, willing, and able to handle  the  problem. GIVING THE AMIABLE RUNAROUND The emphasis on being friendly to the customer is a means to an end; not an end in itself. Your purpose in manning the contact point is to provide a service. You do not have a choice of providing either the friendly atmosphere or the service—you must provide both. A friendly, helpful atmosphere at the contact point puts the customer at ease. A customer that is at ease can relate the problem more accurately; that, in turn, enables you to take constructive action to correct the problem. However, some contact point representatives think their job is to keep customers smiling and get rid of them; that is,  to  give  them  the  amiable  runaround.  True,  the customer goes away happy; but at some later time, that customer  returns  in  a  not-so-happy  mood  because  the problem was not resolved. A considerable amount of time and effort is required to deal with some problems or needs. In such instances, some contact point representatives try to make their job easier by convincing the customer that no action is needed in their particular case. This response denies service to the customer. If a customer requests service to which he or she is entitled, you have the responsibility to provide it. “It’s all taken care of,” tells the customer that you have taken all necessary action. That is a good response if you have truly taken that action; if not, you have  performed  a  disservice—not  a  service. PROMISING  THE  CUSTOMER  ANYTHING You   have   probably   met   a   contact   point representative who agreed with every statement you made, sympathized with you, promised everything you wanted, but DID NOTHING. This type of service is similar to the amiable runaround. It is a method used to “keep ’em smiling.” This  type  of  service  sometimes  develops  as  the result of a “short-timer” attitude. In other words, some people  who  know  they  will  soon  transfer  or  retire become  lax  in  performing  their  duties.  They  say  to themselves:  Sure,  I’ll  promise  you  whatever  you  want to get rid of you; after all, I’ll be long gone when you return to find out why nothing has been done. Promising anything  may  leave  the  customer  temporarily  satisfied, but  you  have  only  postponed,  and  possibly  complicated, the  problem. Many times customers hear only what they want to hear. That causes them to hope or expect for results based on rumor, misunderstanding, or misinterpretation of fact. The way a customer asks a question usually tells you what the customer wants to hear. You have three choices in the way you answer customer’s questions: 1. You can give the answer the customer wants to hear, although you know it is not completely accurate. That  almost  certainly  guarantees  disappointment  to  the customer later. 2. You can make vague statements and let the customer interpret them as he or she likes. That lets you off the hook because you really didn’t give the customer wrong  information. 3.  You  can  give  the  customer  the  CORRECT information or interpretation. That may cause some grumbling, but the customer will not be depending upon hopeless  expectations. Offering anything less than the best information 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”; the morale, as well as the finances, of the customer could suffer because of it. The  friendly  attitude  of  a  contact  point  repre- sentative who gives this type of service is simply a cover-up for an attitude of unconcern. OVERSTEPPING YOUR BOUNDS When  providing  service  to  customers,  you  may  be tempted to overstep your bounds. That is, you may sometimes  feel  like  criticizing  coworkers,  policies, procedures,  or  instructions  or  joining  in  customer complaints.  Resisting  these  temptations,  however,  can often  lead  to  positive  results. 3-11

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