“That’s not my responsibility.” It’s the worst phrase you, or any of your employees, can ever say to a customer. No matter what department you work in within your company, and no matter if the statement is true or not, you should never tell a customer that, because it gives the customer an impression that the company doesn’t care about them. That customer’s business is likely gone for good, too.
Businesses need structure to function, and therefore, everyone within a company has their dedicated responsibilities. If a coworker comes to you with a request, and it’s not your responsibility, it’s perfectly fine to tell them so. On the other hand, customers don’t know this and likely don’t care. They just want a solution to their issue and they’re looking for help from the next person they encounter.
It may be easy for us to tell a customer that their problem is not our responsibility, but in that moment, we represent the entire organization. Our actions affect the customer experience. To them, we are the face of the company and we should treat them with the same respect and care as if we were the VP of customer service.
What We Should Do
If you happen to talk with a customer who has a concern, it is your responsibility to either:
- Solve the customer’s problem politely, or
- Stay with (or on the phone with) the customer until you have found the person who can solve their problem
Don’t just put them on hold and pass them off. That makes the company structure appear more pertinent than the customer’s problem. Keep them reassured that their problem is being taken care of by staying on the line with them.
This is something that salespeople instinctively understand, but many other departments don’t. Even if customers know it’s not your job to fix their problem they still feel as though you’re brushing them off when you say, “That’s not my responsibility.”
The Key Rule
Make a commitment to solving customer problems immediately.
As important as structure is in a company, so too is culture. That’s why you should make it part of your company culture to treat every customer problem as the #1 priority for every employee, regardless of their responsibilities.