The 5 Best Emotionally Intelligent Customer Service Thoughts

A current online article, 10 Things You Would Like to Say to a Rude Customer claims that the world is becoming more uncivil and that rude customers are wearing down customer service reps (CSRs).

The first half of the claim may be true. The second need not be. You and your entire team can start each customer service day with 5 emotionally intelligent thoughts to deliver the best customer service. If you choose the 10 thoughts in the article noted above, then you are choosing to become part of the uncivil world.

My passion and work for 20+ years has been emotionally intelligent (EI) people-skills for the best customer service and teamwork. Trust me, great people-skills emerge from the right mindset. What you are thinking when you are with the customer will become your customer service persona and affect your daily happiness. If right now, you want to say to me “they ruin my daily happiness”, then you are embracing their mindset and living their life.

Customer Service Thoughts By:Marine*B


Choose Your Mindset – Not Theirs.
Before you start each customer service day, choose and fill your mind with the 5 best emotionally intelligent (EI) customer service thoughts. It will also transmit to every customer — the “rude” ones and the civil ones. So just as a satellite receives and sends signals, your mindset can do the same.


  1. Put Your Mindset on the Right Channel to Get a Clear Picture
    If you set your mind purely on the emotion coming at you, you will most likely view the transmission emotionally. I hear the emotion so that I can empathize. Yet my mind is tuned to what the customer needs not to the emotion.
  2. Empathize Emotion; Don’t Analyze It! Trying to analyze or justify a customer’s emotion in the few minutes you have to deliver service is not feasible or logical. It takes therapists years to analyze a client’s emotions. Yours is to deliver service, not to change the customer.
  3. Don’t Trade a Shiny Heirloom Coin for a Slug. Why trade your positive mindset for the negative one coming at you? If you had a valuable heirloom coin and someone walked up and offered you a slug coin, would you trade it? Hardly. Hold on to your positive outlook. It will give you and your loved ones a lifetime of happiness.
  4. Positivity Beats Equality! During a recent workshop a technical support rep asked me “Why does a customer acting badly deserved to be treated well?”. I replied, “Because it works. Treating the customer well gets you to the end goal. Positivity beats equality as a winning strategy in customer service. Treating the customer badly will not get the customer to treat you well and it will veer you off course from business success.
  5. Recharge Your Battery. It takes energy to speak positively and energy can drain. Did you ever notice that you get less patient as you get tired? Most people do. So make sure you recharge your battery after work and throughout the day. Heck even cell phones lose their strength and we plug them in and give them juice. Do the same for yourself. You deserve it!

Remember, inner strength is its own billboard. When you find yourself thinking the 10 thoughts in the article noted at the beginning of this post, you are spraying graffiti on your own billboard — your precious mindset and happiness. The customer has not ruined your day. You have chosen to live their emotion. Live your life, not theirs.

©2010-2011 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach, delivers both inspiration and activation for professional people-skills through workshops, keynotes, video webinars, training dvds, and consulting sessions. She has a natural GPS for people, a Masters degree in Organizational Psychology, and 20 years of experience in customer service, teamwork, and leading change. Preview and get her new training dvd “Customer Service USA – Expectations Across America” by clicking on that box in the right sidebar on this site.

21 Responses to “The 5 Best Emotionally Intelligent Customer Service Thoughts”

  1. Jen Kuhn says:

    Hi Kate,
    First of all, the article, “10 Things You’d Like to Say to a Rude Customer” is disturbing! Clearly that author is bitter and most likely provided extremely poor service, escalated situations and made life miserable for many. Yikes!
    Your 5 points are a breath of fresh air! I love that you suggest to empathize rather than analyze. What marvelous advice. Too often, employees get caught up in the emotion rather than simply validate it’s existence through empathy. This tends to lead them farther down the road of frustration.
    I also like your response to the question posed to you in #4. Our service should not change based on the customer in front of us. Either we provide excellent service all the time, or we don’t. This reminds me of when employees complain, “I’m not paid to deal with people like that?” My response is that you are paid to deal with people. Period. A supervisor never approaches an employee after having dealt with a friendly customer and says, “That customer was extremely nice…please give me $5 from your paycheck.” So why would an employee expect to use pay as an excuse not to provide excellent service to all?
    I think I would add “apologize” to your list. An apology neither accepts nor places blame. It is simply a statement. “I’m sorry for the situation.” This is usually a phrase that will deescalate an angry customer, and it’s also true. If the situation had not occurred, neither person would be upset. So of course you’d be sorry it occurred! Nothing wrong with saying that.
    Your list is exceptional and I will be forwarding it to my clients to give them another perspective on utilizing their emotional intelligence while working with an upset customer (or even co-worker).
    Thank you for your insight! Bravo!
    Jen

  2. Eric Jacques says:

    Great post Kate!

    I really liked your response in #4. I’ve been working with CSRs for years and it always amazes me when someone asks that question. I wonder what they’re doing there…

    I make a point of going into work in a good mood and going around the office to wish everyone a “Good morning!” And, it still surprises some people or I get a “What’s so good about it?” response. (BTW, I always answer “You got up today, didn’t you?”)

    Cheers!
    Eric

  3. Liam says:

    Hi Kate

    I agree with Jen Kuhn above, the post you referred to is disturbing! this is the 2nd such post I have seen, the other one could be entitled ‘how to talk back to your boss!’.

    While we all want to increase the number of jobs on offer, getting people fired to do it doesn’t appear to be the optimum solution!

    I agree with your comments, ultimately, it all comes down to attitude. CSRs are paid to help customers, not to fight them. If a CSR picks a fight with customers, then they are not doing what they are paid to do – end of story.

    CSRs need to learn how to handle irate customers to keep them ‘on side’, this does not mean agreeing with the irate customer, it does not mean submitting to abuse, but it does mean not arguing with the customer and not returning abuse for abuse.

    Best wishes

    Liam

  4. Ben says:

    Kate, Great Post, I agree with your thoughts. I was recently listened to a podcast of Vineet Nayar on the Dan Mulhern Radio show, he has great new concepts for employees, and how to transform them. You might be interested to see this. http://www.vineetnayar.com/everyday-leadership-with-dan-mulhern/

  5. Susie says:

    I agree that the article is disturbing and I hold out hope that the CS reps on my team aren’t as angry and jaded as the author has become. However, I found a couple of her ideas to be thought-provoking:

    It’s true that we typically invest more time and energy in trying to appease our difficult customers than we do in delighting our best customers. How should we move toward tipping the scales in the other direction?

    When we give in to a difficult customer and satisfy all of her demands, are we in effect teaching her that being difficult is the best way to behave in future interactions? Are we training our customers to be rude?

    Thank you for your article, Kate. I look forward to discussing it with my group.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Susie,
      You asked THE most common question I get on difficult customers — Doesn’t “appeasing difficult customers” teach them to do it next time. Actually, no! Working through the concerns and meeting the customers needs teaches them that you are a great service provider. If you want to tip the scales — best way to do it is assess after each difficult call what you can change in service details, processes, etc… that will make service better for all.

      A customer who complains is showing interest in your company. The only question is whether you are interested in learning from your customers and making things better. You are NOT training your customers to be rude.

      Thanks for your comment and your questions. As a thank you, I would be happy to conference call into one of your team meetings to field questions from your team reps and give everyone a boost of energy as a Spring Tune-Up. This is a complimentary call at no charge to you.

      All the best and I hope to speak to you soon.
      Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach

  6. Hi Kate,

    Given the importance of #4 (positivity), you and your readers might find this 60-second video review of “Positive Leadership: Strategies for Extraordinary Performance” useful http://tiny.cc/9v759

  7. Alethea S. says:

    Thought your points were very good, and get the message across well. I will be sharing these with my colleagues.
    Alethea (in UK)

  8. Heather H. says:

    Thank you for posting that. It was very well stated.
    Heather (in UK), Customer Service Manager

  9. Sarah W. says:

    Thank you for saying this! This is the type of service I used to provide at Blockbuster. Staying positive and working through a customer’s problems with them to help come to a reasonable solution instead of getting emotional almost always turns into a win-win situation. Following the same basic principles you’ve mentioned above I can’t tell you how many times I had customers charge in steaming mad and leave with a smile and a “Thank you. Have a nice day.”

    I never knew quite how to put what I was doing into words though to explain it to other people so thank you for the words! 🙂

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Sarah,
      Many thanks for taking time to post your thoughts. Your comments is a treasure to me because so many people in the customer service profession lose sight of the influence they can have to turn negative into positive.

      Here is related post that you may find interesting as well:
      ————————–
      Is the customer a thorn in your side? 5 Things to Think.

      Many thanks for your visit. I welcome your insights, ideas, and suggestions for this Smart SenseAbilities blog.
      Regards,
      Kate

  10. Bruce says:

    I agree that the article is disturbing and I hold out hope that the CS reps on my team aren’t as angry and jaded as the author has become. However, I found a couple of her ideas to be thought-provoking:

    It’s true that we typically invest more time and energy in trying to appease our difficult customers than we do in delighting our best customers. How should we move toward tipping the scales in the other direction?

    When we give in to a difficult customer and satisfy all of her demands, are we in effect teaching her that being difficult is the best way to behave in future interactions? Are we training our customers to be rude?

    Thank you for your article, Kate. I look forward to discussing it with my group.

  11. Patti Deleon says:

    Incredibly awesome article! Really..

  12. Anne Egros says:

    Hi Kate,
    You are absolutely right treating “bad” customers badly can only make things worst. Showing empathy and respect for WHAT is said is more important than HOW it is said. Listen, I mean really listen without interrupting, what does that person really want ? Eventually ask questions about how the customer would like to have his problem solved.

    This remind me a famous story : In a train a man and a 5 year old child are sitting in front of an old lady. The child cannot stop jumping on the seat and kicking the bench where the lady is sitting on. The man does nothing but looking at he window. After 15 minutes the woman’s face becomes red and she shouts a the man. “Can’t you make that child seating still ? Nowadays, parents cannot take their responsibilities, children are not respecting old people anymore because their parents do not teach them good values..” Then the man looks at her with tears in his eyes and says in a very calm tone ” his mother, my wife died today”
    So maybe this “rude” customer has good reasons to be upset that have nothing to do with you. EQ will make the difference.

  13. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

  14. Lorne Pike says:

    Great post, Kate. Having one of these thoughts to draw upon during a tough conversation could make all the difference between losing a temper and saving a customer. Shooting back a quick retort may feel good at that moment, but seeing a happy customer where an angry opponent once stood always feels better in the long run. Thanks very much!

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Dear Lorne,
      Thanks for your comment. The image you painted when you said “Seeing a happy customer where an angry opponent once stood” always feels better. Great mindset.

      I hope you will visit again and lend your insight to any post of interest.
      Warmest wishes,
      Kate

  15. Guy Farmer says:

    Great post Kate. You remind me of how important it is for people to be emotionally intelligent themselves in order to deal more effectively with customers. I’ve found the more we understand that other people’s emotions aren’t about us the easier it is to work with them positively.

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