Is it wise to “split the difference” with a customer?

Q.My customer service representatives have two customers really – the end user customer and the franchisee — and we have to keep both happy. Often, when we reach an impasse, we offer to split the difference with the customer. For example, when the customer is wrong and we don’t owe them a refund, but they are still every unhappy and argue that our policy wasn’t clear, we simply offer to split the difference to get them off of the phone. Would you recommend this or do you think we should seek other solutions?”

Myra’s answer to: Is it wise to split the difference with a customer.

Splitting the difference with customers in deadlock situations is quite common in the customer service world, but I do not think it’s wise and here’s why.

Splitting the difference is essentially making a concession. It’s important to only make concessions that are carefully thought out and to make them strategically. Every concession sends a message to your customer. Here’s what I mean:

Quick concessions undermine the credibility of your initial offer.

Large concessions tell the customer a lot more can still be conceded before your bottom line is reached.

Small concessions tell customers your bottom line is not far off.

If your people quickly offer to spilt the difference, you are undermining the credibility of your organization and beckoning the customer to ask  you for even more. Additionally, splitting the difference is not likely to improve customer satisfaction or bring the customer back.  I’d focus on giving your team skills to negotiate effectively with customers and to assertively draw the line on consumer error.

I think your team might benefit from an on-demand webinar I recorded recently, entitled How to Negotiate with Customers: 10 Strategies for Negotiating with Crafty, Cunning & Unreasonable Customers. Get the details on this on-demand recording right here.