Acknowledge – an Important Customer Service Principle

WRITTEN September 30, 2016 Author: Rich Atkins


Many times, problem-solving interactions in businesses are moved directly to “the fix.” For some people, that is fine. After all, the customer approached the company to get a solution.

Examples include:

  • Something that was missed or overlooked.
    (“I ordered three copies of the book, but only got one.”).
  • A harm done to the customer.
    (“The usher at the concert brought us to the incorrect seats, which caused upset when the people who did have tickets to those seats arrived late, and we had to be re-seated.”).
  • A harm caused by someone else in that place of business.
    (“While shopping in your store, another customer dropped and shattered a container of liquid, which spilled on my clothes and stained them.”).
  • A mistake that the customer made.
    (“I showed up to the wrong location for today’s class.”).

For each of these, there may or may not be something that the business can do to solve the problem. We can fulfill the order correctly, point out that the usher ultimately did put them in the correct seats, explain that the ruined clothing isn’t the store’s responsibility, or tell the customer to read the details carefully so s/he arrives at the correct location.

In all of these situations, there is a way to make the situation right.

The all-important, and often-overlooked emotional component of customer service is to acknowledge the inconvenience suffered by the victim. Acknowledgement can take the form of simple statements like:

“Oh no! That must have been upsetting for you.”

“I’m so sorry that happened to you.”

“We can do better than that for you.”

When you recognize the emotional harm from the inconvenience, you’re saying to the customer, “I get you, emotionally. Your feelings are valid to me.”

Statements like these don’t necessarily admit that the business has done anything wrong (but if it did, we should own up to that fact). They simply allow and validate other people’s feelings.

What will you do from now on to show your internal and external customers that you understand their emotions?

This information is from our Customer Service curriculum. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of our public classes.
Image by Momentmal from Pixabay

Other Resources:

Listening to Customers

Product Management – Building Great Products – Listen to Customer Problems And Not Solutions

Are You Really Listening to What Your Customers are Saying?

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