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Using the 3 dimensions of customer service in business communication

In a previous post, I talked about the 3 dimensions of customer service and how balancing the needs of your customer in each of the dimensions is a large step towards customer satisfaction. This post focuses on how you can use the 3 dimensions of customer service in your day-to-day business communication.

A quick reminder of the 3 dimensions

  • The business dimension – the reason for contacting you
  • The human dimension – the personal need of your customer (assurance, empathy, understanding)
  • The hidden dimension – everything that is going on behind the scenes

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Focus on the person, not on the problem

Regardless of how the customer query ends up on your to-do list, and regardless of the type of query, the person most likely contacted you with a business problem. More often than not, you can tell how the customer is feeling by the tone of their voice, or the tone of their email. If you spot something in the tone of the conversation, you need to address it. You can’t ignore it.

Even if there’s nothing in the call or email that explicitly displays emotion, you should be able to address how you think the person is affected by the problem. Of course you need to solve the problem as soon as you can, but it shouldn’t be your first focus.

Here’s an example.


Customer query

Dear John,

When can we expect delivery of the replacement parts? Note that the order was placed almost 7 weeks ago.




John’s reply to the customer

Dear Bruno,

I understand that the delayed delivery will start causing problems for your end-client if the parts aren’t delivered soon (1). As you know, these parts are normally dispatched within 4 weeks of ordering (2).  I tracked your order. The problem lays in the manufacturing department. I have just spoken with a colleague there, and she said that the parts should be dispatched within 7 days. (3)

Leave it with me (4). I will follow up with my colleague on Monday and contact you to let you know if everything’s on schedule and when you can expect delivery of the parts (5).

My sincere apologies for the delay (6).

With regards,


What John did

  1. John starts the mail by saying that he understands the impact this has. (Human/business dimension)
  2. John reminds the customer how it „normally“ works. (Business dimension)
  3. John tells the customer what he has done to find out about the order. (Hidden dimension)
  4. John takes responsibility for the query, assuring Bruno that someone is taking care of his problem. (Human dimension)
  5. John explains how he will follow up. (Business/hidden dimension)
  6. John apologizes for the service breakdown. (Human dimension)


Try it for yourself

Use the comments box at the bottom of this post to reply to this email, using all 3 dimensions:

I recently sent you a fax to cancel my contract with you. I have received no confirmation and my bank account shows that I’m still paying for your service. When I contacted your customer service department, they told me that I’d receive a confirmation within 6 weeks.

I’m still waiting.

Please let me know the status of my cancellation asap.

Thank you,

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