Coffee Chat: Best Practices for Customer Communication ☕

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Alright folks, I had an amazing time organizing this. Thank you being a part of our coffee chat, @foxcubmama@JulieR@jim.smith@Jadespire45@aarvav.akash, and @gfecteau :coffee:

A huge shout out to all my co-community members aka my friends at work for helping me pull this out:   @rashmi.nag,and  @SanaSiddiqui  :heart_eyes:     

 See you all in the next edition of our coffee chat. Feel free to keep those conversations going. I’ll get back to all your answers later today/tomorrow. Have a good day/night ahead <3 

Thank you @akshara.sruthi for this amazing coffee chat. Absolutely loved reading each comment and every story. Thank you all for your wonderful participation.  😊

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Hey everyone! We’ll get started in a few minutes.

I hope to see our usual participants - 
@manns@Warden Brown@Johan L@LeonieWagenaar@Bex@epetrutis@chianne.shepherd :coffee:

Sorry I was on vacation, I’ve some belated answers/opinions though :)

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Hey everyone! Welcome to our coffee chat. 

First question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q1, start your answer with A1 and use the quote the option

Q1 What are some general pointers to keep in mind when you’re talking to your customers?

A1 A key point for me has always been to treat customers in the manner that you would like to be treated yourself (as a customer).  It’s not the exact match to a customer’s POV but often a good start.

There’s also a need to understand their context - if they have an issue and little time, then the response needs to reflect this.

Finally, although I’m sure there are many others that are important, there’s a need to listen properly and avoid assumption making.

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Second question for today is here! To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q2, start your answer with A2 and use the quote the option.

Q2: How do you turn down requests from customers which you can’t fulfill?

A2. I guess the starting point is the type of request - whether it be for help or service. In both instances though, there’s a need to provide alternatives. For example, if the issue is best resolved by a third party, then help the customer to access their support services. Importantly, making it as frictionless as possible. Here, passing the customer into the “CS queue of death” because the third-party has underinvested in support isn’t great but expectation management will help.

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Third question for today is here! To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q3, start your answer with A3 and use the quote the option.

Q3 How do you handle hostile or unreasonable customers without being rude?

A3. Obviously start by trying to face the hostility with calmness and understanding, apologizing when appropriate. Hopefully, this helps the customer to calm a little too such that they can be receptive to an agreed resolution to their issue(s). Another thing to factor in is that your support staff aren’t expected to take unreasonable hostility and abuse, so build in scripted, empathetic responses that warn the customer that certain behaviors will not be tolerated such that continued abuse will cause the interaction to be terminated by the agent. This can be a “three strikes” warning rule.

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Fourth question for today is here! To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q4, start your answer with A4 and use the quote the option.
How often do you think communication with customers is necessary? (not just for updates, but in general.)

A4. This depends on a number of factors. We all have personal preferences as customers - for example, if I get approached three times by staff offering assistance in a shop I’ll likely leave. Alternatively, sitting in a restaurant trying to get service is a nightmare as is the repeated receipt of emails from an online retailer (including unrealistically long CS surveys).

So for me it’s about balance plus personalization - with both based on feedback.

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Last question for today is here! To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q5, start your answer with A5 and use the quote the option.

Q5 What is the best way to apologize to your customers- feel free to share your stories, emails, and more here!

A5. For me, an apology needs to be real. It might be different in different regions - both culturally and legally - but in the UK we tend to be good at saying sorry at the drop of a hat, so not getting an apology is also a “big thing.”

Personally, how I’m treated when things go wrong is a big part of whether I use a company again. More so than the fact that something went wrong. 

As an example, I currently find that social support on Twitter has issues - they’re keen to help you but often “toothless” in terms of getting you that help. Such that the apology relates to not helping you rather than the issue you had in the first place.

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If you’d like to review my MAMA method of working with an upset customer, I’ve posted it here: 

And I’ll also summarize it below. 


I hope this is helpful--Micah


Having a service recovery framework is important because, even in the best of times, it’s hard for most of us to improvise entirely from scratch without a structure to guide us and upon which to fall back. And a situation that calls for service recovery is, by definition, far from the best of times. When things haven’t gone smoothly and a customer is upset, employees are likely to feel embarrassed, or defensive, or put-upon, or angry—or all of these at once. With so much emotion flying around, it’s hard for even the most seasoned and even-tempered customer service professionals to do their best.

All great customer-focused organizations have one, and they tend to form a mnemonic for easy recall under the gun. For example: Marriott’s spells LEARN; Starbucks’, quite adorably, spells LATTE.

If your organization hasn’t already committed to a different service recovery system, let me offer you my own four-step MAMA service recovery framework. I expect it will stand you in good stead.


[NOTE: Here’s a resource for community members: If you’d like a free, standalone, printable copy of the four-step MAMA  service recovery approach, let me know by email at and I’ll hook you up.]


The MAMA Method for Customer Service Recovery

Here are the four steps to take when responding to a customer who is upset about a service failure:


Make time to listen

Acknowledge and apologize

(have a) Meeting of Minds

Act! And Follow Up


Step 1: Make time to listen

• Immediately stop whatever you’re doing.

• Listen with your ears, your eyes, and your body. Don’t interrupt the customer with questions or explanations.

•Only after listening quietly, strive to learn more about the situation by probing for what the customer is specifically upset about.


Step 2: Acknowledge and Apologize

• Acknowledge the situation and, if an apology is called for (by which I mean the customer feels an apology is warranted, not necessarily that you do), apologize sincerely.

• Even if you have no reason to feel that you’re at fault, you should convey to the customer that you recognize and regret what they’ve gone through.

• Be sure to make it a real apology and not a fakey-fake apology, like “I’m sorry if you feel that way.” (Delivering a bogus apology like that one, through gritted teeth, is probably worse than not apologizing and all.)


Step 3: (have a) Meeting of Minds

• Strive to align yourself to the customer’s expectations for what a solution would look like, and work from there to determine what would both be acceptable to them and would be practical (or even possible) for you to pull off. (In doing this, continue to include your customer in the process of developing this solution, and  strive to be open to a different vision emerging at this point of what a successful solution may be–one that may never even have occurred to you.) 

• Once you have a match, spell out the agreed-on solution, as you understand it. 

• Commit to exactly what you will do to resolve the issue, and by when. 


Step 4: Act! And Follow Up

• Take care of the issue as promised.

• Follow up with anyone to whom you’ve assigned all or part of the resolution.

• Follow up with the customer to ensure all is well.

• Later on, examine what went wrong with an eye toward identifying negative patterns, systemic issues, and chokepoints (for example, repeated complaints of long lines on Tuesday afternoons or of a website that loads slowly, but only on weekend nights), and strive to learn from the error, using this new knowledge, where applicable, to refine future company operations and training.


Micah Solomon 

Featured Influencer

Author • ​Forbes Senior Contributor • Customer Service Consultant

President and CEO, Four Aces Inc. 


Click here to chat live with Micah • 


Hello, it’s was an amazing chat about best practices for customer communication. Very Helpful about how to deal with customers. Regards, noah