Customers come in all shapes, sizes, and attitudes. Unfortunately so do the people businesses choose to put on the front lines of customer service. How well we make these choices has an enormous impact on our company’s reputation and bottom line. Because we conduct business with humans and not machines (usually), we are subject to good and bad days. As a customer service provider, bad days are simply ‘off the table’.

Consider why we have customer service departments in the first place. They solve problems. Problems, by their definition, are often fraught with unhappiness. We need to listen to our customers; understand their point of view; decide, based on facts, not emotions, the best course of action. Our response, however, needs to address the emotions of the client. Even if we cannot solve the problem satisfactorily every time, we can be compassionate and by doing so, let them know we really do care.

I believe in smiling and being kind when helping people. Saying please and thank you tends to sink in and often elicits a please and thank you in response. Common courtesy and common sense should lead most of us in the right direction.

I always advise human resource departments to monitor customer service feedback, striving to make their company the best at handling customers and clients. Most interactions with clients and customers are pleasant and positive. If this were not the case, one would quickly be out of business!

If you’re having a bad day and are simply not up to the task of handling a difficult situation, ask a colleague or superior to step in and help. It will make a big difference in establishing or maintaining healthy client relationships.

This is part of an ongoing series on etiquette in the workplace. Read previous posts here.