Agent Experience

How to Avoid the Customer Service Blame Game

Don’t let blame be your fatal flaw.

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One of the most important parts of customer service is a sense of personal ownership. Customer service agents should be able to take charge of a situation and take responsibility for things that have gone wrong on a company’s end. But unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

Enter: the “blame game.”

In today’s world, many people want to be able to point a finger and blame someone. It feels good to push responsibility off onto someone else. But it’s important to avoid such a scenario when dealing with customers.

Example: A customer received a product in the mail broken, and he or she would like a new one sent immediately. He or she is furious.

Blame game: “That’s not our company’s fault. It must have been UPS, or maybe you left it out in the rain when it was delivered. It left our factory in perfect condition—we have excellent quality control.”

Personal responsibility: “I’m so sorry that happened to you. Let me see what I can do to make sure you’re able to get the product in perfect condition.”

Note: You didn’t say that you would send another one immediately. You didn’t make any lavish promises. But you did say you would get to the bottom of things without pushing the blame onto someone else. Now, you have the freedom to contact UPS or get a new product sent—there are a number of avenues you can take. But when talking to the customer, personal responsibility was prioritized. Of course the broken product didn’t have anything to do with the customer service agent. But in all likelihood, he or she saved a relationship and could have possibly brought in new revenue for the future if this customer chooses to buy again.

Another example: A customer isn’t satisfied with a product and wants a refund, but it’s a full 100 days outside of your 30-day return policy window.

Blame game: “Our policy states that you have 30 days. You took way too long. My manager isn’t going to let me do a refund.”

Personal responsibility: “I completely understand that 30 days doesn’t feel like a lot of time. Could you explain what the problem with the product is? I might be able to help you figure it out.”

There was no blame placed on the customer or the manager. Instead, the call center agent took charge and offered to walk the customer through usage of the product, potentially saving a sale.

In order to serve customers, customer service agents need to avoid the blame game. By taking personal responsibility, they can diffuse tension, make sales, and help improve the lives of their customers.