I called customer service at a large company. The phone was answered by a friendly woman who seemed helpful. While she was waiting for some information to appear on her screen, she started making small talk. Then, it happened. She started talking about her recent medical procedures. That’s bad enough, and to make things worse, she went into great detail. TMI (Too Much Information)! I’d been on the phone with her for about 30 to 40 seconds, I didn’t know her at all, and she was disclosing deeply personal information which would have been appropriate to share with her physician or close family members. It most certainly was inappropriate to share with a customer on the telephone! Why? Oversharing of intimate personal details, including ailments, aches, and pains, is off-putting to the customer, it can make the customer uncomfortable or worse, and frankly, most people simply don’t want to hear it. Nothing good will come of it and there’s potential for driving customers and end-users away by oversharing.

Janet, my wife, and I were on a walk recently and we exchanged pleasantries with a woman who was sitting on a park bench. Shortly after our conversation started, she began giving us her medical history. We couldn’t wait to move on. We have a friend who has multiple medical conditions which is all she talks about. It’s not like she simply gives us a quick update and moves on to something more positive and upbeat. It’s all she talks about! Again, TMI.

Crossing the Line in Sharing Personal Information

I’m not sure what the fascination is with medical conditions and why some people feel it necessary to share such details with strangers, but it certainly happens far too often for my preference. I don’t know where the line is between sharing appropriately with friends and over-sharing. I do know that it’s rarely appropriate to share such information with customers and end-users.

Be a Friendly Professional in IT Customer Service

In my keynote talks and seminars, I often speak of the need to be a friendly professional. That means that we conduct ourselves in a personable manner while taking care of business. Follow the rules for polite conversation: Avoid religion, sex, and politics (and medical conditions). There are certainly times when it’s desirable to make small talk, such as while waiting for information to appear on a screen or for a computer to reboot. Talk about sports, the weather, kids or grandkids, pets, work, travel, hobbies, or where you’re from (home town, neighborhood, or country). Ask questions about the other person. Keep things positive and upbeat. Find something to compliment about the customer, her company, his city, or anything else. Avoid complaining and, by all means, avoid over-sharing or TMI in customer service!

For More Ideas on How to Improve Communication and Customer Service Skills

Bring my IT customer service training seminar onsite to your location for your group, small or large. Click here for the course description and outline.

Customer service book for IT staffPick up a copy of my IT customer service book The Compassionate Geek: How Engineers, IT Pros, and Other Tech Specialists Can Master Human Relations Skills to Deliver Outstanding Customer Service, available through Amazon and other resellers.

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