Newsletter June, 2010 - Issue No. 2

baseball

Early June, it was the big story everywhere – talk radio, the national news, the Internet. 

As I read the story in a few newspapers and viewed it on the Nightly News with Brian Williams, I immediately considered two very familiar topics:  customer service and emotional intelligence.   If I give it more thought, I know I could come up with a few more!! Both Jim Joyce (The Umpire) and Armando Galarraga (the Detroit Tigers’ Pitcher) rose above it all.  The Umpire stepped up and admitted his mistake by blowing the call on Cleveland’s Jason Donald.  His call busted a perfect game for Pitcher, Galarraga – 27 batters up, 27 batters down, no hits, no walks, and no errors!

I have experienced many front line service professionals who just don’t know how to “ease the frustration” of the disappointed customer or extend an apology.  Early in my career, when I was still learning the ropes, I didn’t either. I learned the hard way – by my mistakes.  I certainly have made more than a few in my career. I have also experienced a customer not accepting an apology well or attempting to understand what the front line service professional experiences over and over again day in day out!  It seems hard for either party to walk in the other’s shoes.

Jim Joyce said “I just cost that kid a perfect game.”- (empathy).  Galarraga never lost his temper, or pointed a finger (self-control). He graciously accepted Joyce’s apology saying, “There’s no doubt he feels bad and terrible…I have a lot of respect for the man. It takes a lot to say you’re sorry and to say in interviews he made a mistake.”

In customer service, people are trained (or should be) how to deal with difficult situations/customers: not to lose your cool, walk in the customer’s shoes, find out the facts, apologize, fix the problem and follow up.  It seems to me that Jim Joyce followed these steps. I doubt that he has gone through any formalized customer service training. It seemed to be second nature for Jim.  It takes individuals (like Joyce and Galarraga), who know themselves really well (self-awareness) and possess integrity to do what’s right!

Today, emotions run high, people are stressed.  There seems to be too much to do and too much to accomplish in extremely short periods of time. In every firm I have worked and those I provide training, the comments are the same – “We need to do more with less.”  As stress continues to rise for all of us, emotional intelligence comes into play and in full view!  According to Daniel Goleman’s research, the five criteria include:  self-awareness (recognizing and understanding your moods), self-control (controlling or redirecting disruptive impulses/moods), empathy (understanding the emotional make up of others), social skills (managing relationships and building networks), and motivation (a passion to work for reasons beyond money or status).

I don’t know Jim or Armando, but one thing is for sure, they both displayed high levels of EI.   They kept their egos “under wraps”, understood how each felt, and had the social skills to communicate; one apologized and the other graciously accepted.

We all experience customer service and emotional intelligence every day, whether we are involved in the interaction or not. And great service doesn’t just happen on the corporate front. It happens everywhere, at all levels and careers – sports arenas, classrooms, households, volunteers, parents, leaders, followers, local, state and federal governments; and it’s experienced by many.  Superb service and emotional intelligence happened after that game and that call. We all experienced it.

Whatever the situation, basic customer service concepts happen everywhere, 24/7 and in every walk of life.  This was a teachable moment for us all; no matter what we do for a living!  What mistake have we made recently? And how sincerely did we take responsibility and apologize for it?  How graciously were we able to accept a sincere apology?

Enjoy the summer and let’s hope with all that’s going on around us, we will encounter more wonderful moments like one between two truly emotionally intelligent human beings!

Janet M. Letourneau, MBA, CPBA

Peak Performers, Inc.