Guest Post: Marilyn Suttle on the Customer Service Ladder to Success

Marilyn SuttleThe following is a guest post from Marilyn Suttle, co-author of Who’s Your Gladys?: How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan (AMACOM 2009), on the customer service ladder to success.

When things aren’t going quite right, it’s easy to take an emotional slide down the catastrophic “what if” tunnel, mulling over all the possible things that might go wrong.

• What if my customer gets angry when I give him the news?
• What if I get stuck with the bill?
• What if he tells everyone how upset he is with our company?
• What if the company goes under and I lose my job, my home and end up living on the streets?

By the time you get to the end of the catastrophic tunnel, your confidence is shot and your ability to calmly handle your customers is compromised. When your thoughts are heading in a negative direction, there is something you can do to redirect your path – climb the courage-building “what if” ladder.

It sounds like this:

• What if they handle the news better than I think they will?
• What if I give them my attention and they start to cooperate with me?
• What if they end up so charmed by my charisma that they do even more business with me?
• What if I get so good at calming upset customers that it completely recession proofs our business?

Reality tends to be a practical place. It generally exists somewhere between the two extremes of the catastrophic “what if” tunnel, and the courage-building “what if” ladder. Which set of “what if” questions are more likely to bring the results you want? The next time you catch yourself sliding down the tunnel, pick yourself up and climb the ladder to customer service success.

Marilyn Suttle is the co-author of Who’s Your Gladys? How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan (AMACOM 2009). She is the Immediate Past President of NSA Michigan and CEO of Suttle Enterprises, a personal and professional development training firm through which she’s taught thousands across the country how to improve relationships with customers, coworkers, and even their children. She is a frequent guest expert on TV News. Visit for more information.


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