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Make Nice

August 27, 2008  

When General Motors first launched its Saturn division in 1990, the main attraction for many customers wasn't a line-up of fairly mundane economy cars wrapped in unusual polymer body panels. Rather, Saturn was nice. Its dealerships offered a low-pressure, no-haggle transaction, went out of their way to be friendly during service visits and even invited owners to big barbecues at the automaker's factory in Tennessee. The old-fashioned, white-glove experience was irresistible, even if the cars weren't.

According to Jane Schulte—author of Work Smart, Not Hard!—it's a simple, inexpensive and effective approach. "Instead of introducing a new concept when it comes to customer service," she says, "I believe it is time to re-introduce an old twist—kindness."

Of course, it's easier said than done, especially for a small businesses, when dealing with unpleasant people. When you encounter adversarial situations, she recommends these strategies:

  • If someone is upset, they usually have a reason. Even if they're not on their best behavior, make a genuine attempt to look at the issue from their perspective before you respond.
  • Demonstrate empathy for the customer's stress level by apologizing, stating a clear plan of action and remaining as objective as possible. "With the right attitude and perspective, everyone can win every single time," she says.

The Po!nt: Says Schulte, "It is about having respect for everyone at all times, even in disrespectful situations; being accountable and not passing the buck; promising resolution; and having honesty and integrity in all of your dealings."

Source: Article submitted by Jane Schulte.

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