August 2, 2015 Anil Saxena

What If You Thought Like The Customer

what if you thought like the customerWe recently moved into a beautiful brand new apartment. Unfortunately we noticed two issues right away.


The first time we used the washing machine it leaked. The maintenance person that came up looked at the leaking water and said,

“What should I do about that? I don’t know how to fix a washing machine. I’ll have to talk to my manager and will get back to you.”

That happened Tuesday. We didn’t hear back AT ALL from them until the following week. By the time everything was settled it took 4 weeks to repair. The only time we heard from them was when I called. When they couldn’t tell by when it would be finished, I asked if what we should do about washing our clothes in the meantime. The answer – “Bring your clothes to a laundry mat”


The dishwasher rack was something we pointed out the first day. It took about 4 months for them to finally replace it. When the technician came up to do it he told us – “We should have replaced this the day you pointed it out. It is faulty”

Neither of these is life threatening, but they are annoying. They are the kind of thing that will get a company a bad review on Yelp and can sink its reputation if it happens repeatedly.

But what if the maintenance folks actually thought about the issues they had to deal as if they were the renters. What if they thought about the problem from the perspective of a customer? What would they need to do differently?


Think about how it would feel if the same issue was happening to you. You would want to be treated like an adult. You would want to know that the person trying to help you wasn’t annoyed by your problems.

Most importantly, you would want your questions answered without attitude. It may have been true that we had to take our clothes to a laundry mat. But, it could have been said a little differently or alternatives could have been offered (maybe free usage of the building’s laundry service) or explored.

“No matter what procedures, processes, people or tools you put in place, empathy — the ability to identify with and understand somebody else’s feelings or difficulties — is a quality without which superior customer service simply can’t exist.” – Michael Hess

If you are uncaring in how you deal with a customer you can be sure that they will find other place to get their services.


Even if you don’t have the answer to a question or solution to an issue, make sure the customer knows you are working on it. There is nothing more annoying than being the black hole of “what are they doing with my problem”

Imagine if it was your issue or question. If you were paying someone to solve a problem, wouldn’t you want to know what the progress was? Yes, yes you would.

Don’t wait for the customer to follow up with you. Make it a point to be proactive and contact the customer to let them know the progress. It will incentivize you to have something to tell them.

“Customer service starts the moment you have your first contact with a customer and theoretically never ends.” – Ken Mueller

If you don’t make sure that they customer knows what has developed/transpired on their issue they will assume nothing is happening. Then instead of just dealing with a customer with an issue, you’ll be dealing with an irate customer with an issue.


Nothing is worse than long waits to solve problems or deal with issues. Don’t make customers wait. Recently there was a study done by UK Institute of Customer Service for software companies. They proved that waiting a day doubles the cost of resolving a customer issue.

“research by the UK Institute of Customer Service shows that the approximate cost of resolving a customer issue within 24 hours is $4.70. But waiting just one more day causes that cost to skyrocket to approximately $7.80″. – Andrew Gori

Not in the computer software industry? So what. The longer you wait to solve issues the more likely that the issue will get worse and/or the customer will:

  • Will find additional things wrong
  • Go somewhere else for their business
  • Make sure everyone knows how rotten your company is

None of these are great alternatives. The faster that an issue can be resolved the better. If the problem was in your house or on your car, you would solve it as quickly as humanly possible. Treat customers like you want to be treated!

Focus on solving customer issue quickly. If you don’t, it is both a great way to lose customers and a great way to waste a lot of money.

What is your organization doing to think about issues and problems though the eyes of the customer?

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