Diagnose Like a Doctor–Without all that Pesky Med School

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to work with a sales team. Part of my remit was to help them respond to comments (complaints…) with greater finesse (patience….) 

The trouble was that the majority of the complaints were centering on a particular feature that was prone to malfunctioning. 

Given that, the minute anyone on the team heard a customer start talking about the issue, they went directly to problem solving (with a dash of impatience.) 

Here’s how that sounded:

Client: “X feature has been malfunct…”

Team Member: “Right. It’s happening to everyone. Here’s what you do….”

Unfortunately, when you short circuit someone’s story (complaint) they stop listening to you. 

Pointing this out to the team had them complaining to me, however:

“But WHY do we need to listen? We know what the problem is. We just want to fix it…”

After several botched attempts to talk to them about the importance of wallowing (see link below…) I hit upon the following analogy:

“Imagine if you went to your doctor and you said,” 

‘My back is killing me. When I wake up in the morning it just seems to…’

And they responded, 

“Right. I know what the problem is. Here’s what you do.” 

Bam. The team got it. 

Why? Because—rightly or wrongly—we all want to believe our problem is special. 

When we go to the doctor, we want to believe our back, or our brain, or our GI tract is special. 

When we call with a complaint—regardless of the product or service—we want to believe our experience is special. 

So, hang in. Listen. Maybe even throw in a few “Tell me more’s…” then provide a solution. 

If you do, you will have a customer for life.


For more on the importance of—and the how to’s of effective wallowing—take a look at, “Come Wallow with Me, Let’s Wallow, Let’s Wallow Today!”