Question: How do you “take ownership” of customer issues?

Answers from frontline reps —


Empathize and see the problem through. In my experience, taking ownership involves several different elements. The first element is to empathize with the member’s situation. Showing empathy can be a great ice breaker, which allows the conversation to flow from a business conversation to more of a personal one. Once you have built a personal connection with a member they become more open to your suggestions and it can lead to an easier resolution.

Secondly, do not pass the buck. Oftentimes when we are dealing with frustrated members, it becomes easy to pass the problem off or advise the member that there is nothing we can do. Taking ownership in these scenarios require a willingness to see the problem through to the end. This can be done by brainstorming with the member to come up with a solution, and reaching out to your peers and different departments to find alternate solutions to the member’s problem. By being resourceful and willing to go the extra mile, it gives the member confidence that you have done everything in your power to try and solve their problem.

Lastly, I would say tell the member what you can do for them. After empathizing with the member, being resourceful and gathering ideas for resolution, tell the member exactly what you can do for them rather than focusing on what you can’t do. If you can come up with several different possible solutions to a member’s problem, there is a good chance that they will accept of at least one of them.

By incorporating these elements into your conversations, taking ownership will become seamless and less daunting.

— Jerrard Gates, Navy Federal Credit Union


Provide assurances. Customers can quickly become frustrated when they can’t get an answer to their questions. It is easy to escalate a situation by advising the customer that it was another area or department that did not follow through. But instead of playing the blame game, advise the customer that you can help with a simple phrase such as, “I would be happy to help you with that.”

You may not have a direct impact on the solution of the problem, but you are the first step in assuring the customer that it will be handled. That simple phrase tells the customer that you are going to take responsibility for handling the issue.

There will be times that you won’t be able to resolve the issue during the first interaction, but you can still take ownership of the problem. To do this, assure the customer that even though you don’t have an answer right now, you or someone else will contact them as soon as possible with the needed information. Once your interaction with the customer is complete, your interaction is not over, you must follow through with your promise. If you let the request fall through the cracks, you become part of a now bigger problem instead of taking responsibility for the customer’s issue.

— Rachel Dillon, Assurant Specialty Property


Be accountable for your work.  We need to make sure that we have the mindset of being accountable for our work. Once we have this as our mindset, it will show in our behavior and our actions. It will also show in our language and the way we talk to customers in general. We won’t come off as just trying to get rid of them as quickly as possible.

I know it sounds corny, but a great rule of thumb is to always treat your customers like you want to be treated when you are the customer.

— Jo Sprowl, SKF USA, Inc.

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