Saturday, August 7


Working on puzzles is a fun way to spend with family. You look at the options to see what picture or design fits your fancy, check out the total pieces, and review the skill level. And your off to assembling this great masterpiece. But it takes steps to connect the puzzle. It doesn't just happen that easily. Understanding a person, whether a family member, friend, teacher, or customer has steps that are necessary to gaining trust, seeing the whole picture, and providing information or insight.

Recently I had some problems with my wireless carrier. I had gone over my minutes because my favorites had changed in their database. NOTE: I have a group of numbers I call that haven't changed in 10 years. So, I eventually changed to an unlimited plan because I knew in the coming months it would help, but the problem was still the change in my favorites.

I was billed for my overage for 2 months even though I called right after the first month and changed to the unlimited plan. Their entire billing system was confusing and I took some responsibility because I just pay the bill without auditing it each month. (Need to change that habit for all billing.) So there I was frustrated and a little upset. I mean the rep that took the initial call said, "yeah, I can see that you call these 4 or 5 numbers a lot." 

The rep that took this call changed the way I will handle customer situations going forward. The phrase he kept saying, "I understand, I understand." And he in no way understood. Not even close. He had been trained to use words to create understanding, but he missed out. 

Here are 3 parts to Understanding:

1. Listen: First and foremost, you must listen. Do not talk, interrupt, or say anything. Grab a pen and paper and write things down. Listen for tone, key words, dates, people, anything. Listen with both ears.

2. Recognize: This is where he missed it. Recognize there is something unique to that person. It wasn't about the bill, I paid it. It was the entire process. He focused on one part. You have to recognize that there are sometimes many parts to a customer complaint that are built from one to another. Your job is to recognize each individual part.

3. Explain: After you find all the components to the problem, address each one individually. Explain part 1, part 2, and so on. Explaining the what and the why in this case may have helped me Understand, the problems. Customers need to hear your way of doing things. And don't you want to explain your way? It will help prevent most problems from occurring a second time with that customers.

Understanding is not just a word to be used loosely with your customers. It takes you rolling up your sleeves, engaging in the customers conversation, and fully appreciating the full experience. Once you grasp all 3 parts, not only will you understand your customers, but your customers will understand you. How's that for increasing loyalty? UNDERSTANDING- you got it?

What steps can you add to this process? What ideas do you have to help employees and leaders to better understand their customers. Post your comments here:


  1. I can totally identify with what you went through. Canned responses in general push my buttons and contribute to irritation that's no fun for the rep I'm talking with.

    I liked your model... alot! I'd add confirming understanding. Does it take a lot of time to check to see if you (the rep) are on the same page as your customer? No, it really doesn't. It actually saves time and, gasp, builds rapport.

    Sorry to sound so snippy. I had a flashback... post traumatic service syndrome.

  2. Monica,

    I love it. And I am glad I am not the only one.

    Adding the confirmation is perfect. It gives the customers assurance that they are in good hands.

    Thanks for sharing.