How to Create a Customer Service Mindset with One Question

Customer service is about attitude first, skills second. All of the product knowledge and technique training in the world will not produce results if a customer facing professional (CFP) is not trying to achieve success in the moment. A CFP must care enough about the final result to actively look for solutions and to shift from a reactive posture to a customer service mindset.

As a friend of mine says, hire the smile, train the skills.

However, even when you hire the smile, or when you get a natural welcomer as my friend Richard Shapiro calls them, the pressures of front line service can often overwhelm natural instincts to help, and for those who are not so naturally inclined towards a service mindset, the pressures of the line almost always overcome anything but the most effective training programs.

Instilling a Customer Service Mindset with One Question

In the hunt for shortcuts that can get customer facing professionals to embrace a customer service mindset in the shortest time possible, I have discovered a question that immediately helps shift a CFP’s perspective from reactions to solutions. That question:

How do I turn this into a win?

Of course, we are not talking about winning in the sense of a football game or winning a la Charlie Sheen; a win means a win-win — a resolution that leads to a happy customer and profitable company, either in the short or long term.

The question is meant as a simple one-line perspective shifter. It is an easy tool to help a CFP pull themselves out of reactive thinking such as “why is this customer yelling at me” or “this customer is being ridiculous” and to focus on what they can do to turn the situation into something that benefits both parties.

Is it a magic bullet? Of course not, there are no magic bullets in customer service. But as one line solutions go, this one is amazingly effective.

Talk about it with your staff, put it on your computer monitors, and post it on your intranet.

You’ll be surprised by the results.

How do you turn situations into a win? How do you train for this mindset?


By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.

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