When dealing with a difficult customer, often times there is not much that can be done to resolve an issue presented to you, until you are able to successfully determine the root cause. It is not uncommon for a customer to present an issue to you, but withhold the most important piece of information, which is the underlying issue, or root cause. The issue that is presented to you is in fact real, and will need to be dealt with properly, however, until the root cause is resolved, there is little to no chance of resolving anything beyond that root issue. It is important as a customer service professional to build the skill of correctly analyzing the root cause.
I once had a new customer, that for reasons unknown to me at first, there appeared to be nothing I could do to make the customer happy. I analyzed my first few days dealing with the client, and could not come up with a single moment in which I felt I had done something or said something compromising, or in any way would justify the animosity I was feeling from this new customer. Finally, after several weeks of re-analyzing interactions, paying close attention to the actions of the customer, and focusing on how to resolve the issue, I determined that the gentleman that previously had the customers business, successfully built a strong professional relationship with the customer, and the front facing staff were not happy with the sudden change. Once I determined the root cause, it opened the door to resolving the issue. I was able to successfully look at the issue from a different perspective, and approach it from a new angle. By knowing the issue was not personal on my part, but in fact was personal, as in the previous professional relationship, I was able to make the appropriate changes, and within weeks, had won not only the approval, but the trust of my new client.
There are many opportunities when dealing with customers, to earn their loyalty, if you are able to first determine the root cause of an issue. This important skill set can be the difference between building a long lasting professional relationship, and losing a customer before you earn a return purchase of your product or service. It is key to build the proper skill set to accurately analyze, and determine the root cause of any issue presented by a client. This could be the single most important skill that you, or your customer service team can develop.