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.

20 WOW Telephone Techniques: Tip #6

Don’t say anything to a customer that you wouldn’t say to your grandmother.


If we all followed this simple rule, we would always create warm experiences over the telephone. Most of us would never speak to our grandmother in a harsh, rude, apathetic or condescending tone. Further, we’d eagerly go out of our way to find a solution to help grandma out. Naturally, we’d smile when speaking to grandma.

So, tip # 6 is “Don’t say anything to a customer that you wouldn’t say to your grandmother. “  When you master this tip, all of the other tips really become unnecessary.

If you liked this tip, you might also like our customer service eLearning. It has a a module on telephone techniques and another on call control.

20 WOW Telephone Techniques: Tip #14

How to WOW a Caller that You Cannot Hear

Last week I called my natural gas company, ONG, from my cell phone.  Apparently the representative could not hear me at all. After saying “hello” a couple of times, she said:

“I’m sorry, I’m not able to hear you. Your call is important to us. Please call us back at 800-xxx-xxxx. Thank you for calling ONG.”

I loved it! Most Reps might just hang up when they hear nothing on the other end of the phone. BUT ONG used “dead air” as an opportunity to WOW. This simple statement was memorable and unusual. The next time you can’t hear an incoming caller, try ONG’s response strategy and you will WOW your callers. 🙂

If you liked this tip, you might also like our customer service eLearning. It has a a module on telephone techniques and another on call control.

Ever show up to pick a rental car only to find out the company had the reservation, but not the CAR!

Jerry Seinfeld shows up to rent a car, but the company has no cars. See how he reacts. Get ready to laugh!


Many of you know that prior to starting my consulting practice I was the global head of consumer affairs for Thrifty Rent-A-Car System. The scene in this Jerry Seinfeld episode is one that plays out in real life every single day in car rental locations throughout the world. Jerry says what many of think, but don’t dare to say in the wake of the dreaded “over-sell” situation. Watch, laugh, and learn.



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Imagine your next phone call is from an angry, irate customer and you’ve only got a few seconds to gain control.

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