Thu | Mar 22, 2018

Help or Hinder? The key to customer satisfaction

Published:Sunday | May 1, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Some recent experiences highlight the critical role that mindset plays in what actually takes place. I saw up close two distinct mindsets which resulted in totally different levels of customer satisfaction.

I needed an urgent credit card replacement and explained the situation to the receptionist. I was promised a 1 p.m. pickup the next day. I allowed some time and went minutes after 2 p.m. I was told the card was not ready and my understanding was that the process had only been initiated an hour after the promised delivery time.

The receptionist started to recite the normal delivery times to me, at which point she was reminded of our discussion and the company's commitment the day before. I had to wait as I needed the card. I eventually got the card after the bank had closed and asked the receptionist to call downstairs and have them let me in so that I could have the card pinned.

The receptionist said she could not call but that the guards would let me in. With no alternative, given her stance, I approached the guard who refused to even put my case to someone inside.




Driven by my need, I went back upstairs and saw the receptionist in the corridor and asked her to speak to the guard. She gave me a 'screw face' look and muttered that she "was coming". That has not happened to date.

A helpful guard upstairs gave me the name of someone I could ask for, and I approached the by now visibly upset guard downstairs with the request to speak to the individual. While he disappeared, the smiling face of an unconnected employee, 'DN', appeared in the corridor and asked if I was getting through. I explained my situation and she moved immediately to the intercom and asked someone inside to assist. That person quickly agreed.

The overruled guard let me in and I was greeted by a warm teller who quickly met my needs. She exuded professionalism and obviously had the mindset that she was there to help, not to hinder. The guard clearly was clear in his mind that he was there to hinder, not help.

His role was to block rather than to facilitate the reason for the bank's existence - serving customers!




If employees come to the workplace with a mindset to help, client satisfaction is guaranteed. Those who rely on technicalities to hinder leave customers with a bitter taste.

Immediately following the bank experience, I went to MegaMart to set up roaming with FLOW. It was as if I had been transported to another planet. I took a little longer to gather the information and make my decisions. But through it all there was clarity on the part of the customer service representative that her role was to help, not hinder. Patience, warmth and empathy were in evidence.

There is a direct link between a mindset that sets out to help, not hinder, and customer satisfaction.

On the same day, I needed to contact Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency to assist someone in getting a same-day passport. The woman on the line could not have been more helpful and encouraging. She was careful to identify issues that might cause the process to be hindered - potential pitfalls. She understood that we needed to be helped and she wanted to avoid anything but a positive outcome.

Customer service is on the training schedule of every learning and development department, year after year. The norm is to recycle the same concepts. You pick this up in the role recitals with which you are greeted, many sounding like a recording.

A sea of change will be achieved when coaching focuses attention on mindset. Why are you here and what is your role - at the core? Help or hinder?

Our 'Reading Customers for Success' programme drills down to the core.

Master and coach these concepts with our SHRM-accredited Certified Behavioural Coach Award and 3-D Leader Certification: Leading Difficult People programmes. Earn PDCs for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP certifications. Email:

• Trevor E.S. Smith is a behaviour modification coach with the Success with People Academy.