Rise Performance Group

Exceptional Customer Service Begins with Tact

customer serviceAuthor: Steve Deighton

Steve Martin, comedian, author, musician, and actor, is quoted as saying “Some people have a way with words, and some people not have way.” When we consider the interaction between our service employees and our customers, do the employees communicate and demonstrate their understanding of the customer’s concern (and ultimately, the way the employee addresses the concern) in a manner which does not offend the customer?

Do customer service issues, which should be routinely handled, escalate to higher levels unnecessarily? Do our employees have the situational and contextual awareness to be sensitive to our client’s needs and feelings?

A formal survey of leaders is not required to know if your customers are being provided with service that meets or exceeds their expectations. So why do organizations have people in service roles who lack the tact to work with customers? One explanation is that some people are just wired to be very direct and blunt. They lack the social and listening skills to pick up on what is most important to the other person.  They may be more “thick skinned” than other people and are not as sensitive to the feelings of others.

A second explanation is that many hiring managers do not always gather enough information during one or two interviews to understand a person’s tact. The person gets hired, and soon after, the hiring manager begins to realize they have a problem.

To hire people who have the right amount of tact to effectively meet and exceed customer expectations, hiring managers need to assess prospective and existing employees. Understanding the employee’s tact in relation to the ideal required for the role allows managers to be more confident when the employee interacts with customers. Tact serves as the foundation for providing exceptional customer service, and is one of six behavioral characteristics measured by the Profiles Customer Service Profile ™. 

Organizations that value customer loyalty need to understand how they are serving their customers, and whether the level of service being provided is consistent for every customer and every interaction. This requires a deeper understanding of the employees who are tasked with delivering service, and managers with the courage to develop service employees to their best.

Remember that it’s cheaper to keep existing customers than to find new ones. A satisfied customer does not guarantee a repeat customer, and a loyal customer can be your biggest brand advocate!

So how do you and your customers get on the same page? I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below.

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