To Resolve Conflict: Meet in the Middle

Monday, November 14, 2016

This past week our country elected a new President in what was certainly the roughest Presidential election I have ever participated in. Having two polarizing candidates makes it tough to decide which way to go and which way would result in GROWTH for the country. Some see lots of hope or turmoil as a result of our election; depending upon your point of view. The experience of the last several months made me think of Customer Service and the two opposing viewpoints that result in conflict, frustration and fractured relationships. Since the end result of an election can be the same as a service experience, let’s have a friendly discussion on the TWO SIDES of the Customer Service issue and see if we can’t find a way to meet in the middle.
Just like an election, there are always at least two sides to consider with a customer service dispute- let’s meet the candidates!
  • Business: On one side of the aisle- we have the business. They promise to deliver a great service, they work to train their team to deliver on their promises and they are responsive when they get a complaint from their valuable customers.

  • Customer: On the other side of the aisle- we have the customer. They shop around and do their best to find the best products and services. They consider themselves to be reasonable and are not thrilled when they have to complain about the businesses they frequent.

    So what happened?? Two people or entities that believe in their side of the equation (sound familiar) and now we have to work it out- we have to hear both sides of the story (Campaign).

  • Business: We provided the products and services as we agreed to the customer. We have a signed agreement and it is frustrating to have them disputing our services when everything was so clearly lined out.

  • Customer: We signed the agreement but the sales person told us one thing and we believed him. We should be able to trust the sales rep and the agreement should support what they told me. Now that both sides have shared their stance it is time for the conflict to take the next step (Debate). 

  • Business: I’ve talked with the customer and as a result I met with our sales person. It looks like there might be some truth to what the customer is saying but they do have the responsibility of reading what they signed.

  • Customer: I just spoke with the owner of the business and while I do feel I am right about the service challenge, he brought up a good point about the signed agreement. Both sides have had their say and have taken ample time to consider the opponents viewpoint- the process has a certain beauty to it- just like our amazing American system of politics.


    So who is right? We come to the VOTE

    In America we see both candidates, we hear both sides of the issues, we watch the debates and then we get to decide the outcome. Our business owner and our customer have ‘duked it out’ so to speak and now we await the outcome………….just like in our election.
    They say there are THREE sides to every story and in a Customer Service dispute that is certainly the case! In an election there are three sides as well: Left- Right and some glorious place in the middle where we are able to meet the needs on both sides of the equation by having each side ‘give a little’.
    Now for the results of the Debate (Election)

  • Business Owner: I do not want to lose a good customer or a good sales rep- I think I will go ahead and meet the customer half way and then spend a little time retraining my team so we can prevent this from happening again.

  • Customer: Well- I’m not crazy about the resolution but the business owner seemed to care and I am going to accept his offer and make sure I read what I sign the next time!

    Customer service, just like politics is a little tricky because PEOPLE are involved and boy can we make life interesting! Consider the words of this country music song as we work to find the middle ground in every area of our life!

    I start walkin your way, you start walkin mine

    We meet in the middle ‘neath that old Georgian pine

    We gain a lot a ground cause we both give a little
    There ain’t no road too long when we meet in the middle!
Let’s work at doing more to see both sides of the equation both in politics and in delivering a great service experience.
Cheri Perry 11/14/2016

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