The Customer Experience Series: Reactive Customer Service


Resolving customer issues is not actual customer service, it’s reactive customer service. Businesses that assume this is actual customer service completely miss the point of managing the customer experience. The goal, of course, is to eliminate issues before they occur.

When you’re faced with resolving an issue – that is, practicing reactive customer service – there are few things we need to keep top of mind; these are known as the realities of reactive customer service:

First: Remember Our Goal

Regardless of how unreasonable the customer is being, we need to always remember our one goal: To resolve the issue. That’s it.

Believe it or not, we’re not trying to wow them, create a customer for life, or even become their best friend. We simply want to resolve their issue efficiently and with as little effort on their part as possible. (And, as we learned in the previous post, that’s really all they want from us.)

Second: Realize It’s Not A Problem

Their issue – the one that’s forced us into a reactive customer service situation – is not a problem, it’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to help someone who is asking for (or demanding) our help.

Stay true to the task at hand (resolving their issue) and don’t get hung up the idea that someone is having a problem; they are not; they are providing you with an opportunity to assist them.

Third: It’s Nothing Personal

Even if it gets personal, we need to understand that it’s nothing personal. It’s an opportunity to resolve someone’s issue. Even if the irate customer on the other end of the phone starts screaming at us and calling us names, it’s not personal.

Throughout our interaction with the angry customer (who might be trying like hell to make it personal), we need to remember that they are mad about issues… and they’re the one with the issues.

Like every customer eruption that preceded this one, this too shall pass. Everyone will live – even if we never resolve this customer’s issues – everyone will live.

Fourth: Visualize Three Things

Do you want to be known as the best customer service agent ever? Believe it or not, this is actually quite simple, if you’ll just learn to visualize three simple things when dealing with customers.

First, envision that there are multiple TV cameras focused on you right now. Second, imagine that your words and actions you use to resolve this customer’s issue are going to be talked about on CNN tonight and forever. And third, picture the person with the issue as someone’s slightly confused, 95-year-old great grandmother.

Properly visualizing the situation life this will ensure you are always on your best behavior when you find yourself forced into reactive customer service.

Next up in the series: Kill ‘em with Kindness

(If you’re catching this series for the first time, you may want to begin with the first post in the series: Why Does Good Customer Service Matter?)

About TheManager:

Steve Stauning, creator of The Appointment Culture and an expert in The Customer Experience. He is also an extremely popular keynote speaker, writer, and industry consultant. Learn more about Steve at