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Many believe, and rightfully so, that problem solving skills are the one “must have” on any job. It’s an important element in any employee’s productivity, but there are also other things that are just as crucial when an employee is solving problems.

As A. Harrison Barnes, founder and career coach, explains, the way your employees interact with your customers as they’re looking for solutions can make or break the experience in its entirety – and can potentially either lose a customer forever or convince your customers that your company is the only game in town.

One example includes the story of a woman who’d called an electronics company to alert them to a potential safety hazard on one of its products. She says that while the customer service representative was polite and tried to be helpful, he came across as young, inexperienced and a bit too laid back, especially considering the concerns she had for one of the company’s best selling products. The representative began the conversation with, “So what is it I can make happen for you today?” Perfectly harmless, albeit not very professional. The woman continues with her experience, “He kept telling me that the company no longer made the surge protector I was referring to, but that he’d “go plunder around the warehouse” in an effort to find a replacement for her. Of course, she had no interest in a replacement, or for that matter, even a refund; rather, her goal was to alert the company of a potential liability.

While most companies want a certain procedure to be followed, it’s the delivery of that procedure that’s just as important as your message. Proper training, the ability to problem solve and a mature approach to your clientele are all what define a good experience. If any of these are absent, odds are, you’re risking your customers, says A. Harrison Barnes.

“It’s important new employees receive the proper training” says Barnes. “Further, it’s not uncommon for a company to hire an employee with a particular job in mind only to realize he thrives in another area”. If your customer service reps aren’t finding their rhythm, but are otherwise good employees, it’s always more advantageous to you and the employee (not to mention the customer) to place her in a position that’s better suited to her skillset so that you can put only those who thrive in customer interactions front and center to be the “voice” of your company.

Finally, the founder says that a relaxed approach, but one that’s not absent any level of professionalism, is the balance you’re looking for. A bit of training and a commitment from your team is a solid foundation to build upon. Like the example above, you want those customers who provide feedback on your company’s services or products and the last thing you want is to discourage them from this kind of interaction. It’s that first interaction that’s so important – who’s taking their calls?

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