What do traffic lights and customer service have in common?

Posted: 23rd July, 2020 in Business writing & email etiquette, Case Studies, Communications, Customer Service, Personal effectiveness, Sales , Strategy & planning, Tips & Tricks, Training and mentoring

How often do we pay attention to every customer as they walk in the door? Or when we answer the phone each day? If we are regularly engaging with high volumes of customers, clearly, it’s no surprise we stop noticing?

Anytime we interact with a customer we won’t always know how the conversation will go. A lot will depend on how they are feeling and their emotions. So, if we focused on how they are feeling, surely, we could manage them more appropriately?

When it comes to assessing the mood of the customer, I think of the traffic lights.

  1. The green light represents happy customers – it’s safe to go and we can keep moving.
  2. People who are a little unhappy are amber in colour. They may be upset about a product or service, but not with the person serving them. Yet, we need to be cautious and possibly slow down
  3. The red traffic light are the very unhappy customers. These are the ones we need to stop and take care of. They may not be friendly, but its our job to be friendly and service them with care.

Next time, you engage with a customer, pay attention to their state of mind. Watch the body language of the person as they walk into a room. You can tell a lot by the way they hold themselves, the pace of their step or the look on their face.

On the phone it’s a little more difficult. We can’t see the other person; we can only hear them. Frequently people just listen to what the customer is saying. They pay heed to the words, questions and responses. Yet, they fail to listen to the tone of the conversation and therefore how they are feeling. If we take a moment to tune into how the customer is talking using the traffic lights, we can gauge the mood of the conversation. As a result, we can respond more appropriately.

More importantly, we need to be mindful of our own mood when dealing with customers. Let’s be honest and ask ourselves the questions:

  • How many times have we finished up a difficult conversation feeling a bit grumpy or frustrated? Plenty of times, I’m sure.
  • How many times have we taken this feeling back into our working day whilst dealing with other customers and colleagues? Again, I am sure we can answer "Yes". 

Essentially, many of us move on to the next customer whilst we are either amber or red in colour. But it doesn’t do us any favours. No one wants to have numerous difficult situations – ultimately, we want to reduce them. 

We cannot control other people, but we can control our own behaviour. Our greatest defence is to keep a clear head, to be impartial and learn not to take things personally. We can do this by getting ourselves back to green. We can engage lots of different techniques to calm ourselves. We can take a moment out and walk around, sip a glass of water, talk ourselves off the ledge using reasoning, take deep breaths, think of something joyous and finally do something that will produce a positive result.

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