Have you ever experienced terrible customer service? Or exceptional customer service? Both are unforgettable… but only exceptional customer service happens with intentionality. (I doubt many people who would like to keep their jobs seek to be terrible!)
Customer service is crucial in business AND in ministry. I emphasize AND because often times, I feel like ministries leave this emphasis out. While “customer” may not pertain to the ministry, service is perhaps the most genuine way we can align ourselves with God’s love.
When someone emails or calls with questions or concerns, they should know by our reply that they are dealing with a Christian. And by that, I mean they should see that our mannerisms and attitude are like Christ. We are slow to anger. We are patient, and we listen to them.
There have been many emails that I have received in my years of various customer service roles where my flesh wanted to immediately send them an email back and basically say…. “I’m sorry, but no.”
But then, when tempted to anger, the Holy Spirit reminds me, “Teeny, what a great opportunity to show someone My grace.”
It’s been the times where I have shown grace to someone that stick out to me most. The majority of the time, when I show grace, the customer’s response back proves to me that it was the right decision. We don’t always know the full story, and sometimes, helping someone out can turn his or her day around.
When I get an angry email from a customer, I can typically tell when it’s an emotional anger versus an irrational anger. Meaning, instead of just reading their words, I try to think about what they’re feeling.
“There is NO WAY that this shirt you sent me is a medium! I always wear a medium, and this shirt must be like a XXS! So the tag may say medium, but it is DEFINITELY not one! I hope you have plans to give me my money back because there is no way I can wear this shirt EVER!”
In situations like this, I know the facts. I know our website has a size chart. I know that if there are any items we offer that vary in size/style from what we typically carry that we include size ordering instructions and an extra link to the sizing chart in the product description.
But instead of presenting those facts (which although they may be true, are not at all helpful at this point), I try think about what she’s feeling. At the end of the day, she ordered a new shirt that she was excited to wear. She opened it, tried it on, and it was too small, so she couldn’t wear it. Her actual emotions, which probably stirred from disappointment with a twinge of unjustified embarrassment, come across at anger at me, even though she’s probably more frustrated with herself for not double-checking the size chart.
My reply back would go something like this:
“Oh no! I’m so sorry, [her name]! I’m so glad you contacted us immediately! I’m happy to help you exchange for a new size or return the item, whichever you prefer. Here is a link to our size chart. You’ll find your particular item in the second chart. I’m also including instructions below for an exchange in case you’d like to go that way so we can get you a different size in the mail ASAP. Again, I’m so sorry for the mix-up, and we hope we get to see you rock this shirt very soon!”
If I had to break it down into steps, I would say:
1. Stay calm and collected in truth…even if they’re emotional.
2. Apologize…even if you didn’t do anything wrong.
3. Offer multiple solutions…so they feel like they get to make a choice on what it best for them.
4. Simplify the process for them (and for you!) in your response as much as possible by including pictures, links, and lists of specific action steps.
5. End by emphasizing the potential positive outcome.
And here’s the motivation behind it all:
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” – Colossians 3:12
As believers, the Bible tells us that we should be kind, humble and patient. We should also treat others with respect. And in business, that means good customer service. No, not just good; our customer service must be seasoned with excellence and grace.
And bigger than absorbing the blame and minimizing customer embarrassment/frustration/anger… our customer service can offer a small glimpse of the unconditional, unstoppable love of Jesus. We may never know exactly how God chooses to use our small acts of obedience, but we can be assured He never wastes them!