Psychological Barriers to a Super Customer Experience
by Kate Nasser |
In the past I have written that great choices create a super customer experience. A recent jaw dropping experience at the Hilton Garden Inn once again shows that the opposite is also true. Bad choices burn customers.
Many of these bad choices are driven by psychological barriers. Awareness of these psychological syndromes gives managers, CSRs, reps & agents the ability to make better behavior choices and deliver super customer experience.
Psychological Barriers to a Super Customer Experience
Which of these have you witnessed in service reps, agents, and managers?
- Cognitive Dissonance: When a person’s self-image or view of performance is in conflict with facts or another person’s perception, denial can set in.
Example #1: When Jason, the general manager at the Hilton Garden Inn realized the horrible things Karen the front desk manager said to me, it was in conflict with his existing view of her.
Burning behavior: He clearly declared that her behavior was unacceptable yet slipped into cognitive dissonance and thus burned my experience with “she is a good manager.”
Caring behavior: Instead of changing the reality to meet his perception of Karen, he could instead admit the failure and the dissonance. “Her behavior is unacceptable and I must admit quite surprising to me.” Or simply admit the failure and keep the dissonance to his own private thoughts.
Example #2: A patient said to a dental hygienist during a cleaning, “That’s painful. I am in pain.” The hygienist’s view of herself was that she does not inflict pain. What she was hearing didn’t fit with her self-image.
Burning behavior: She simply responded, “Well there will be pressure!” in a sing-songy voice. In her mind she was applying pressure not inflicting pain. She offered no empathy because that would require her to accept that she had inflicted pain. The patient never went back. She told the story of the samurai hygienist to the next caring hygienist she found.
Caring behavior: The next hygienist said: “I am sorry. I can put some fluoride on your gums to ease the pain then continue.”
Cognitive dissonance burns customers because most don’t see that the rep or manager is the one struggling psychologically. Customers believe at that moment that the statements and behavior are a direct reflection of what the manager or rep thinks of them. This is a huge risk to super customer experience and loyalty.
- Defense Mechanisms. Karen’s defense mechanisms were in full swing when I objected to her giving my room number to the cab driver. She was unable to accept that her actions were out of line and change course.
Burning Behavior: Karen made it a win/lose between her and me. When you define customer interactions as win/lose, you trap yourself and in the end your company loses.
Caring Behavior: Define interactions as win/win from the start. In that mindset, changing course is not backing down. Changing course is a logical way to finding a mutually agreeable road.
When a manager, rep, or agent is defensive, they have basically declared that there is a war and their focus is protecting themselves. Customer service is not a war. It is the continuous improvement and delivery of superior interactions between ourselves and our customers. Otherwise, why would they come back? To fight a war?
- Weak self-image. Even after 20 years of teaching customer service, I still encounter one or two reps in each class who admit they cannot say “I’m sorry” unless it is proven they themselves made a mistake.
Burning behavior: I feel for these reps. Their inability to say to a customer, “we are sorry for the impact this had on you” is rooted in a struggle to always feel good about themselves. It will also leave the damaged relationship to smolder in pain as the customer shares their dissatisfaction and disappointment with other potential customers.
Caring behavior: Experience the greatness of putting others’ feelings ahead of your own. A sincere apology for the service team’s failure to deliver outstanding service — bonds, corrects, and heals the wounds.
- Overactive Ego The manager, rep, or agent who has to dominate any interaction with a customer comes across as a control freak.
Burning behavior: The mindset, “you need my help so follow procedure and do it my way.” Communication may not be as blunt as that yet the tug-of-war that ensues can leave the customer fatigued and disinterested in your services.
Caring behavior: Share control of the interaction with the customer. Give and take is far easier than any tug-of-war.
Every customer wants service to be easy. Paying their money to handle psychological syndromes, hangups, and barriers isn’t on their bucket list.
Free the customer and yourself from the trap of psychological distress. Embrace reality, make it a win/win, and create an easy super customer experience for everyone!
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™
Related Post: Simply Great Choices Create Super Customer Experience
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on customer service & experience, employee engagement, teamwork, and leading change. Kate turns interaction obstacles into business success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.