Customer service professionals are naturally eager to please.
They want to make their customers happy. It's what fuels them. My research suggests it's the biggest thing that motivates employees.
This eagerness can also cause service failures.
There's such thing as being over-eager. Too much eagerness can cause people to stop listening and jump to conclusions. It can also lead to an employee telling little lies in an effort to make a customer feel temporarily happy.
Here are three examples of how being over-eager can lead to poor service.
Our brain naturally detects familiar patterns. It recognizes a few details and then instantly completes the picture. We use this skill constantly. In fact, you're using it right now -- it's how we're able to read written words.
This same function can get us into trouble.
Let's say you're trying to help a customer solve a problem. They start describing a situation that you've heard a hundred times before so your brain instinctively stops listening and the solution flashes into your brain.
Unfortunately, your brain mis-recognized the pattern. Even worse, you missed important details when the customer continued talking while your brain shut off listening.
We can detect and override this instinct if we're working slowly and methodically. It becomes a lot harder to do when we're under pressure to work fast.
That's where an over-eager desire to please causes problems. It's an internal pressure to work quickly.
Less listening can lead to more assumptions. Here's an example:
Two couples were traveling together. They arrived at their hotel and attempted to check-in. The front desk agent assumed they wanted adjoining rooms since they had booked their reservations together.
An over-eagerness to please caused the agent to jump into solution mode. Rather than confirming the couples' room preferences, she assumed that's what they wanted.
She scanned her system for two adjoining rooms that were both clean. There were none. Dejectedly, she told the couples they'd have to wait another two hours before they could check in.
What the agent missed was there were plenty of clean rooms that weren't adjoining. The couples never requested adjoining rooms and it wasn't really important to them. The agent's over-eagerness caused her to miss this critical opportunity and instead caused a service failure.
Nobody likes to deliver bad news.
Customer service professionals who are too eager to please will sometimes tell small lies to help customers stay temporarily happy.
- They'll say, "maybe" when they know the answer is "No."
- They tell a customer they'll look into it when they know it won't happen.
- They'll say "I'll get right on it" when they know it will take awhile.
These over-eager pleasers don't lie maliciously. They just have a hard time sharing the truth. Unfortunately, these little lies create unpleasant surprises in the long run.
It's a much better policy to tell the truth up front. Customers might not be as happy right away, but they'll be less angry over time. It's the classic under promise, over deliver approach.
A Little Less Eager
Being eager to please isn't inherently a bad thing. Just be sure you aren't so eager that you miss out on the opportunity to actually deliver.