It wasn’t until day two of our vacation that I noticed the band-aid stuck on the smoke detector in our hotel room.
It grossed me out.
My wife, Sally, had a different reaction. She immediately knew why it was there. Her unique perspective allowed her to instantly see something I couldn’t.
Do you know why the band-aid was on the smoke detector? Just for fun, leave your guess in the comments section below. I’ll provide the answer in a couple of days.
But for now, this band-aid serves as a reminder.
There are customer service perspectives that we often miss. This miss happens naturally. It’s instinctive. We’d benefit greatly if we could overcome it.
We lose out on many opportunities to serve because we naturally start from the Me Perspective:
- That angry customer is being mean to me.
- These customers are preventing me from getting work done.
- That customer is making it hard for me to follow the rules.
This is instinctive. We naturally see the world from our own perspective. It takes effort to stop viewing things from our Me Perspective and take steps to find the You Perspective:
- Why are you angry?
- How can I help you get something done?
- How can I help you get what you want?
The Me Perspective is “That band-aid on the smoke detector grosses me out.”
But, imagine what we could learn if we thought about the person who placed it there. “Why did you put the band-aid on the smoke detector?”
There’s a danger to the You Perspective.
If we aren’t careful, we can confuse the opinions, tastes, and preferences of one customer with those of all customers. When thinking of all (or many customers):
- Do they tend to get angry about this?
- Do they find it difficult to get things done?
- Are they able to get what they want?
In my book, Service Failure, I wrote about a wine bar that can be a bit polarizing.
A few customers don’t like it. The employees use colorful language. There’s a chummy group of locals who enjoy loud conversations across the bar. The place is definitely not romantic. The wine bar might want to make some changes if they listened to the You Perspective of a few customers.
However, the They Perspective reveals that their regular customers have a few things in common:
- They enjoy the employees’ fun personalities.
- They like meeting other wine enthusiasts and making friends at the bar.
- They appreciate having a wine bar that’s more social than romantic.
The very things that turn a few customers off are exactly what makes the wine bar special for a large number of loyal customers.
So, back to the band-aid.
Sally instantly knew why the band-aid was there because she had seen it before. This wasn’t the work of one random customer. It was part of a larger pattern. She had the They Perspective.
There’s value in looking inward.
The challenge with the Me Perspective is we only look at ourselves. But, customer service is often a team endeavor. That’s where the We Perspective comes in.
- A delivery driver relies on the dispatcher to set appointments for the right time.
- A restaurant server relies on the chef to provide a great meal.
- A doctor relies on the office staff to keep things running efficiently.
Chronic problems often exist because we don’t step back and look at the whole system. There are a few obstacles:
- Customers don’t always complain
- Employees don’t always pass along complaints
- Dangerous icebergs are mistakenly viewed as one-time problems
This short video explains how overlooking customer service icebergs can be dangerous:
Back to the band-aid. The hotel could ask a few questions:
- Have we seen this before?
- Are we aware of similar issues?
- Is there something we can do?
What You Can Do
A lot of pithy advice tells us to ignore our instincts. This is unhelpful. Instinctive behavior is just that. Instinctive. It’s what we naturally do. The Me Perspective is one of those things.
What you can do is be aware of it.
Sense those moments when you are thinking of yourself and not your customer. Then, take charge of your perspective and re-frame.
- You Perspective: What help do you need?
- They Perspective: What help do they need?
- We Perspective: What can we do better?
Back to the band-aid one last time. Can you figure it out? Enter your guess in the comment section. I’ll respond with the answer in a couple of days.