Learning & Development

Stop Pointing the Finger Internally

Businesses can be complex, interdepartmental webs of cooperation and codependence. When salespeople must backtrack on pricing they promised to a potential customer, it may be because someone in the finance department initially provided incorrect information. When a customer service representative receives an angry call from a frustrated customer, it may be due to shoddy work on the part of the production team.

pointing fingersIt’s tempting for the salespeople or the customer service representative to point the finger at someone else when faced with an unhappy external stakeholder. After all, in the hypothetical examples above, it was someone else’s fault.

But it’s never a good practice for employees to point the finger at another employee, team, or department. Managers and training departments need to drive that point home at all levels of the organization because it’s unfortunately a common practice.

Through the Eyes of the Customer

It may be frustrating for employees to endure the wrath of an unhappy customer over an issue they did not contribute to, but to understand why this is necessary, one needs to look at these situations through the eyes of the customer. When customers call a help line to report their cable went out in the middle of a highly anticipated football game, they don’t care if it was the person who answers the phone who caused the outage or a technician who accidentally severed a connection. They only care about the result.

Pointing fingers, even if pointed at the right person or department, just comes across to a customer as the organization making excuses for its mistakes.

One Organization

Customers aren’t interested in the internal dynamics of companies they patronize. They see one monolithic organization that either does or does not provide quality goods and services as promised. Whether a mistake was made by procurement, production, sales, customer service, or any other department, it’s the company as a whole the customer sees.

Focusing on the Fix

Rather than trying to deflect blame, employees interacting with upset customers should focus on fixing the issue. In other words, they should focus not on who is to blame for what happened but on how to correct the customers’ issue and how to prevent it from recurring.

It’s no fun to be on the receiving end of an angry customer’s tirade. But pointing the finger at someone else in the organization doesn’t do any favors for the company, and it rarely placates the customer. Customers don’t care which team messed up; they only care about the company meeting their obligations.

Instead of trying to find someone else to blame, employees should focus on fixing the issue at hand and preventing similar issues in the future.