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Why putting the “pen in the other hand” improves customer service

Malcolm Pitcher - Wednesday, January 14, 2015

“Sign here” says the official on the other side of the counter. You reach for your pen and duly sign your name.


And it takes no time at all; after all, you’ve done this millions of times before. But what if you were to put your pen in your other hand? A simple thing like signing your name becomes a chore; what was easy, suddenly becomes very hard. 




It’s hard because your brain has to learn something new.

With the pen in your normal hand, your sub-conscious mind retrieves your “how to sign my name” programme and gets you through the task in double quick time…almost without thinking.

With the pen in your other hand, everything slows down. Because there is no programme in your head, you have to engage your conscious mind and stop and think for a moment before putting pen to paper.

This stop and think moment can be very powerful
Not only will it help you sign your name with your other hand, it will turn you into a much better customer service person. Think about it.

When you are confronted by a difficult customer you have a choice, you can rely on your sub-conscious mind to instantly load your “deal with difficult customer” programme, or you can take a moment to stop and think about what you are going to say and do.

And when you stop and think about what you are going to say and do, you end up with better solutions to help solve your customer’s problems.

The result; happier customers and a calmer you.

How can I be calm when I have to write down what the customer says with my pen in my other hand?
The good news is you don’t have to write anything down with your other hand. When a difficult customer confronts you, all you have to do is imagine putting your pen in your other hand as you listen to what they say.

Better still; just hold a pen in your other hand for a moment. This will be enough to bring your slower conscious mind into play and stop your super fast sub-conscious from taking over.

But I’m already too busy at work; if I’m relying on my slower conscious mind won’t everything take longer?
Yes it will, but only slightly longer. And if you stick with it you’ll find that you’ll actually save time because you’ll notice that you give better “first time” answers to customers and end up with fewer serial complainers to deal with.

And as you give better answers, something magical happens
Your sub-conscious mind will start to remember those times when your conscious mind helped you make great customer service decisions. It will start to store these new programmes and make them ready for you at a moments notice.

So in the future, after a quick “pen in the other hand” assessment of a customer’s situation you’ll have a lot more instantly available options to choose from.

It’s like trying to sign your name with your other hand, the first time it’s hard but after the 20th, 30th, 100th time it gets easier and easier.


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