This topic came up in a discussion with a team member. She asked, “how do I know when to jump in and help someone with a customer?”
It was not a problem I had thought much about before. While I had discussed the eventuality in training, I had not given much consideration to the level of uncertainty that team members can have in these situations.
As the owner, I can easily jump into a conversation with a customer simply by saying, “Hi, I’m Adam; I’m the owner. I couldn’t help but overhearing what you were saying, and I would love to help you out.”
If you are the owner or manager, you are generally welcomed into any customer conversation as someone in authority who can “do more” to help resolve the customer’s issues. Of course, you want to be aware of not stepping on your team’s toes, but outside of those considerations, the in to the conversation is pretty easy.
However, what should someone do when they are not the boss or manager? What if they hold the same position as the person assisting the customer? How should team members be trained to handle these situations?
Stepping in to help a coworker is an inherently delicate business. You need to be aware of your relationship with the coworker and the coworker’s general disposition. Egos are fragile things, and stepping in to save a situation can inherently be seen by less secure coworkers as insulting or patronizing.
If the goal is to help the customer, you can only achieve that goal if your actions do not make the situation worse.
The four scenarios above will give you some fairly solid guidelines on when to consider stepping in to help a coworker, but each specific instance will be dictated by who is in the situation as much as what the situation is.
Have you ever watched a coworker struggling with a customer and debated whether or not to step in? Have you ever stepped in and wished you hadn’t?
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