Why Customer Service Isn’t an Attitude

“I don’t know anything about that.”

That is the phrase I heard three times as I talked with a government agency this week. I had faxed a document the week before and waited 48 hours (which they said were necessary for the document to be recorded) only to find out that the fax number was wrong.

I notified her, “That’s the fax number on your website.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t know anything about that.” The statement was dripping with apathy.

“You might want to have that fixed.” I pressed.

“I don’t know anything about that.” She reaffirmed.

I wondered if she saw the problem. “OK. If someone sees that on your website, they’re going to have the same problem I had.”

She made sure I understood that she didn’t care about the problem, “That’s the website. I don’t know anything about that.”

Her ability to know anything about that isn’t the problem. The problem is she sees no reason to figure out who does. Her objective is obvious: get this condescending jerk off the phone as quickly as possible. And this may make her job seem easier, but it does nothing to help anyone reach a worthy goal. When team members understand 1) their team goals and 2) how they contribute toward those goals, then having the right fax number on the website suddenly¬†does matter.

Customer service issues aren’t always about having a good attitude. Sometimes it is about a culture that understands why what they do is important.

So, it’s not an attitude, it is an outcome.

Have you experienced poor customer service recently? Do you think the employee understood why what they did was important, or did they care?

Dustin Staiger is a business and marketing coach in Houston, TX. He addresses team and individual effectiveness, marketing, communications and creativity for smaller, entrepreneurial organizations as well as large enterprises.

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