MANNING THE CONTACT POINT
Upon completion of this chapter, you should be able to do the following:
Discuss the first impression of your initial approach when handling
Discuss pitfalls to avoid when handling customers problems.
Describe what you can do and what you should do to avoid dissatisfaction
in extreme and unusual situations.
Discuss why assisting the customer is important.
Discuss the importance of working with records of customers.
You often hear the lament, No one notices the
things I do right, only the things I do wrong.
Unfortunately, that is too often true! Perhaps that occurs
because we expect people to do things right or because
we find it easier to pick out those things that are wrong
and evaluate their consequences. To emphasize this
point, we use examples and illustrations in this book that
point out mistakes you can avoid.
Chapter 1 listed several contact points to which
customers could come to receive services. These may
be personal services, specialized services, or routine
The customer who wants to request a school,
register an allotment, correct a service record error, or
discuss a personal problem requires more than routine,
impersonal service. You should treat that customer as an
individual with a special need.
Most customers have routine needs that can be met
on an impersonal basis. For example, the post office
sorts mail for delivery; on payday the disbursing officer
verifies and distributes payboth are routine services.
Even though routine services are impersonal, that
doesnt mean they are unimportant; they are both
personal and important to the customer receiving them.
Performing all routine services properly eliminates
many customer service problems.
This manual does not attempt to present customers
problems and their solutions. Rather, it identifies
problems in personal interactions, discusses factors that
influence attitudes, and suggests ways to improve your
THE INITIAL APPROACH
It has been said that the first impression is a lasting
impression. Upon first meeting someone, you quickly
form opinions based on that persons dress, speech,
mannerisms, and rating or rate (if known). These first
impressions are not always fair, but they do exist; they
do affect our attitude.
MAKING A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
Customers form a first impression about you based
on the same criteria you use to form your first
impression of them. However, these impressions affect
your customers differently than they affect you. You will
extend service to numerous customers during the course
of a dayyou meet a customer, form an impression,
provide a service, and then redirect your attention to the
next customer. The impression you form may affect your
mood, but it usually does not extend beyond the
individual customer or group of customers.
On the other hand, a customers impression of you
usually gets generalized to the entire office. For
example, a customer has a particularly complicated
problem, and you are able to solve it by looking up the