Resolving Conflicts

Blog 1440 – 08.30.2019

Resolving Conflicts

Opposition and armed conflict though popular means of trying to resolve conflicts are most often the least effective tools in the tool box. In my seven plus years working for Mercedes-Benz USA, especially the last half of those, I came to know our Zone Office General Customer Service Manager, a big part of who’s job was resolving customer complaints that rose from the dealership representatives, to the district service mangers, and lastly to him. Imagine almost every phone call you receive being from an irate, disgruntled, and discontent customer who at least two other trained problem solvers had tried and failed to make happy. But he was a gifted wizard at customer relations and conflict resolution. I saw him more than once use what I believe to be the best and most effective tool in conflict resolution – he listened impersonally and without passion but really listened as customers vented their frustration.

Too often without really listening we plunge right into problem solving attempts without even hearing what the real problem is. Often if we just allow the upset party to vent, they are so grateful for the opportunity to find someone who listens and they also usually feel so guilty for “losing it” and scalding you that they are after venting much more agreeable to settle the issue amicably.

All one really has to do to accomplish this wizardry is to keep their own ego out of it and let the customer rant if they need to to get their grievance expressed. More often than not the problem bugging them is really a matter, easy to resolve, requiring in many cases less cost to the company than the time already misspent trying to pass up the thorny problem to someone else, and certainly less expense than losing a loyal customer and all the future business their glowing referrals would bring in. It is a truism, but still true, that the very best advertising is satisfied customers.

Resolving conflict skills should be taught in school along with language, science, and math, these are important lessons. A little less language, math, and science and a lot more conflict resolution is what this world needs most. Or so say I, but we can talk about it. I’m all ears.

Your friend and fellow traveler,

David White

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