Impact Learning Systems

GET TO THE HEART OF CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

The Zen of Customer Service Monica Postell

zen of cs crop The Zen of Customer ServiceHumor me. Take a long, slow breathe in as you read this. Now, take your time and exhale slowly blow­ing a steady stream of air. That wasn't Zen; it was just breath­ing but it felt good, didn't it?

To me Zen con­jures up feel­ings of tran­quil­ity and images of quiet, con­tem­pla­tive sit­ting (in a gar­den much like this) and of har­ness­ing the mind to med­i­tate on the mean­ing of life…or cus­tomer service.

If a com­mon zen med­i­ta­tion is "Who am I?" Then per­haps the cus­tomer ser­vice med­i­ta­tion might be "How can I BE the customer?"

I never expected to quote Chuck Nor­ris much less in a cus­tomer ser­vice post but here goes: "Zen begins and ends at the most human level, how peo­ple think of them­selves and oth­ers." That's a quote from his book "The Secret Power Within — Zen Solu­tions to Real Prob­lems."  He may have been talk­ing about mar­tial arts and Zen, but what he said surely applies to cus­tomer ser­vice.  How CSRs think of them­selves and oth­ers def­i­nitely shapes how they deliver cus­tomer service.

So how do we move our minds to BE the cus­tomer and act accordingly?

Here's a zen story that's thought pro­vok­ing. (And not because it involves beat­ing some­one with a stick!) The story goes that a young man wanted to mas­ter the art of sword fight­ing. Being a young, indus­tri­ous fel­low, he found him­self a mas­ter sword fighter and appren­ticed him­self to him with the agree­ment that the mas­ter would teach him the art of sword fight­ing. For the first few years all the lad did was cook, clean, and act as the master's ser­vant. Even­tu­ally, he reminded the mas­ter of their agree­ment and asked him to begin teach­ing him. The old fel­low agreed.

But the lessons had begun.  Just as the stu­dent began to cook the rice early the next morn­ing, the mas­ter sud­denly appeared behind him, whacked him with a wooden sword, and dis­ap­peared with­out say­ing a word.  The stu­dent then began sweep­ing out the rooms.   And at a cer­tain moment, when he least expected it, the mas­ter was there right beside him again, hit him again with the sword, and dis­ap­peared.  This went on all day, every day.  No mat­ter what the stu­dent was doing, he could never be at rest, know­ing that at any moment the mas­ter would again appear and hit him with the wooden sword.

A few years went by this way and even­tu­ally the stu­dent learned to suc­cess­fully dodge the master's blow no mat­ter which angle it came from.  The stu­dent felt he had accom­plished some­thing, but the mas­ter was not sat­is­fied with him yet.

Then one morn­ing, the stu­dent spot­ted the mas­ter busy cook­ing some veg­eta­bles over an open fire.  The stu­dent decided to turn the tables, picked up a big stick, and crept up on the mas­ter.  When the mas­ter stooped over the cook­ing pot, the stu­dent raised the stick and swung it down on the mas­ter — who in an instant grabbed the cover off the cook­ing pot, spun around, and used it to catch the tip of the stick.

In that moment the stu­dent had the kind of sud­den insight Zen is famous for:  He saw into one of the secrets of the art of sword fight­ing, that sen­sory aware­ness has to be devel­oped to the point that one can antic­i­pate move­ment as well as thought.

In Zen,the learn­ing expe­ri­ence is sub­tle and grad­ual. In cus­tomer ser­vice, the learn­ing expe­ri­ence is sub­tle and grad­ual as well. As much as we'd like to see CSRs leave new hire train­ing as  fully real­ized cus­tomer ser­vice pro­fes­sion­als, no amount of train­ing will make that hap­pen if the individual's atti­tude isn't already customer-focused and service-oriented.

It seems to me that the lessons learned in cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing can't solely be about how to put a call on hold or use sys­tems tools effi­ciently and effec­tively. And con­sid­er­ing that the vast major­ity of learn­ing occurs after train­ing, I have to won­der about the lessons learned on the job.

So I'll leave you with two ques­tions on which to meditate:

  • What would the impact be if  your CSRs left train­ing feel­ing good about them­selves, cer­tain of who they are and what they hope to accom­plish on every cus­tomer interaction—whether it's inter­nal or external?
  • What does your orga­ni­za­tion do on the job to sup­port the impor­tance of act­ing with integrity, being your best self, and serv­ing rather than ser­vic­ing customers?
With a back­ground in per­for­mance improve­ment and instruc­tional design, Mon­ica Postell works with Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems in design­ing and deploy­ing train­ing and devel­op­ment pro­grams that fos­ter real cus­tomer loyalty.
4 The Zen of Customer Service
Mon­ica Postell
View all posts by Mon­ica Postell
Share and Enjoy:
  • printfriendly The Zen of Customer Service
  • email link The Zen of Customer Service
  • facebook The Zen of Customer Service
  • twitter The Zen of Customer Service
  • linkedin The Zen of Customer Service
  • googlebookmark The Zen of Customer Service
  • digg The Zen of Customer Service
  • delicious The Zen of Customer Service
  • technorati The Zen of Customer Service
  • Anony­mous

    "cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing can’t solely be about how to put a call on hold or use sys­tems tools effi­ciently and effectively"

    It amazes me how often the cus­tomer is left out of cus­tomer ser­vice. Some­times fol­low­ing the rou­tine script isn't the right response. Call cen­ter employ­ees have to learn what to do when the unex­pected happens.

  • Jeff Mor­gan

    Great arti­cle. Reminds me we have much to learn. Much to do. Thank You…






Alltop, all the top stories

We're an Alltop blog, and regularly contribute to The Customer Collective and CustomerThink.

Back to Top