“To be of most service to my brother, I must meet him on the most equal and even ground.” Henry David Thoreau wrote this in 1841, and it applies almost 180 years later in customer service.
We often talk about empathy, and empathy relates to an employee having an understanding of the customer – where they’re at and what their situation is at that time. Thoreau is referencing the same thing. For us to be of service to others, we need to try to get on equal ground, even ground.
Where is this other person at this moment? Is the customer in an emotional state? Are they upset or angry or anxious? What did they do to get to this point where they are in front of us or on the phone with us or sending us the e-mail or text? The answers to these questions provide the “ground.” We create a common understanding of their current footing and how they got to this place.
But for us to best serve, we must also be equal. How can we turn that understanding of their ground into creating a position of equality? We have to think about how we’re speaking to that person. We have to think about the words that we use based on their situation. We have to consider how well we listen and how well we portray that we’re listening. We have to use some of their words when responding in dialogue to them. We need to reflect their tone or at least a slightly softer tone when they are loud.
To be of best service to someone, understand where they are and how they got there, then consciously try to reflect them.
To best serve others, meet on equal and even ground.