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The Right Way to Approach Customer Service

Not what you want to see when you walk up to y...Image by Jim Frazier via Flickr

Several months ago I found myself in the midst of a real life version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles and I learned a valuable lesson in customer service. I was on my way home from a business trip and, to make a very long story short, I was stuck with a bunch of other travelers at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. We'd loaded the plane. We'd sat on the tarmac for hours. We'd returned to the terminal to correct a problem. We'd reloaded the plane. Then we were told we'd have to get off the plane and be shuffled to another flight. It was your basic travel nightmare.

As I stood in the back of the line at the service counter waiting for my reassignment, I watched as my fellow travelers verbally accosted the ticket agent. Granted, they were saying all the the things I was thinking, but the poor guy was getting mercilessly yelled at and berated.

I was the last person in line. As I approached the lambasted ticket agent, I noticed that he defensively refused to make eye contact.

"Tough night for all of us, isn't it?" I asked with the most cheerful tone I could muster.

He finally looked at me as he held out his hand for my boarding pass. I forced out an "I know how you feel" smile as I gave it to him. He rolled his eyes, nodded, and began to work on my reassignment.

"Thanks for taking care of us," I said as his fingers clickety-clacked their way across the keyboard.

The printer whirred and he pulled out the new boarding pass.

"Thank you," he said to me with deliberate earnestness. With that, he handed me a first-class ticket home.

Like it or not, Customer Service Representatives have the power to help or hinder our quest for resolution. How you approach them may determine which it's going to be. As my Grandma Golly always said, "You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar."

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