An Uncommon Response in Customer Service How to Take Ownership of a Customer's Request

I was recently preparing to travel outside of the United States, so I called my bank to ask them to put a travel notice on my credit cards. I was transferred no less than five times from one department to the next. With each new person who picked up the phone, I had to recount my story all over again. Each time, the agent would listen to my request, then basically say, “I can’t help you, someone else can.”

They were all nice, but each one passed the responsibility to someone else. I was not a happy customer.

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It is a common occurrence we encounter. People pass the buck to others and there’s always a good excuse for it. But great organizations create a different culture. Twitter_logo_blue Let me share with you an unforgettable example of excellence in customer service, an uncommon response.

When my brother and I arrived to New Dehli, we needed a local flight for the next day. We tried to book the flight online, but the transaction would not go through. So we went to the hotel desk to ask them for assistance. A nice young man did his best to help us, but he could not readily figure out our payment issue either. After staying with the us for about an hour, he discovered that Indian airlines cannot accept foreign credit cards. It was about 9pm, and our flight was supposed to leave the next day at 8am. At that point, we thought it was a hopeless situation. How can an American get an Indian credit card in less than 12 hours? We had to take the flight, but we were stuck.

The nice Indian gentleman then looked at us and said, “I will use my card”—his personal credit card. He was willing to buy our tickets and allow us to reimburse him in cash. We were shocked that he would be willing to do that. After all we were just another guest in the hotel. He would have been well within reason to say, “I am sorry. I really wish I could help you. You may want to call this number, or go to this credit card company’s office tomorrow.” After all, he had already gone the second mile.

Later I stopped and asked him, “What made you go the extra mile for us?” He looked at me and almost immediately answered, “Mr. Walid” (as they liked calling me India), I had to solve the problem.” It was a matter of fact statement. That was the standard he had to meet, and he was committed to fulfill it.

I had to solve the problem. These words will always stay with me. Oh, how much I need to remember them when I am serving people! What if every one of us, and everyone who worked for us, had that same attitude? Simply that the problem has to be solved—by us! Make it happen. Don’t send someone away or transfer them. Get help if you need to, but when the problem presents itself to you, take ownership of it as your very own issue to resolve.

The hotel we stayed in is called Double Tree by Hilton in Gurgaon. The name of the gentleman who helped us is Summit. I give him and the rest of the staff my very best and warmest regards. Thank you for taking such great care of us, and thank you for teaching me a great lesson in customer service.

Your Friend,
Wes Saade MD Signature

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For Further Reading:

One Secret that Guarantees Outstanding Customer Service
How to Build a Second Mile Organization

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