I'm surprised how many people talk about how horrible customer service is in this country and never really offer this very simple solution.
BE A GOOD CUSTOMER!!!
I just had an experience at my local 7-11, the one where some of the employee's know me and I've been to A LOT this summer, that I wanted to share the knowledge I've gleaned from it. I'll let the stage. . .
It's late, around 9:00pm, and I'm tried after having printed some things at the Fedex across the street. I'm getting a soda because I know I'll be up a little later tonight and I don't want to be totally exhausted. I grab my soda and get in line. The woman in front of me looked normal, late 30's, blond highlights in her dark brown hair, with two little ones in toe. It looked as though she was buying some things for a trip or maybe they just love their junk food at this time of night. To give her a little credit, I don't know what happened in her day and maybe she was totally stressed out. However, what happened next was totally inexcusable.
From the moment she stepped to the check out counter, her attitude and air was one of utter disgust and annoyance. Having learned a thing or two from Weston about body language, I wasn't surprised when her total came up and she started second guessing what had been run in. She insisted that the checker had rung in the slurppy (is that the spelling?) twice. The checker said, No that he hadn't then counted out the items on the counter, showing her that he had rung them all in. Now here was where the customer service could have been better. It would have been better if he had looked through the order and double checked every item before taking the money, and this is where the mistake was made. I don't know if he didn't speak English well, as he did seem a little confused, but he's always been very kind and helpful every time I've gone into the store.
He hands her the receipt and she promptly scour over it. Finding what she was looking for, she tells him in the most condescending and disrespectful tone (she started using 'Sir' all of the sudden. Ever notice how Sir or Ma'am when people are angry?) that he was wrong and in fact he did ring in the slurppy twice. He took the receipt from her and looked it over, counting every item. She starts yelling, pointing at a sign that said the Doritos were 2 for $2 and that he had basically stolen a dollar from her because he was to lazy to check everything in properly. Really stolen a dollar? All of this over a dollar? Yelling and screaming over a frickin' dollar? At this point I wanted to hand her a dollar if that was what this whole thing was about.
The checker then has to void everything out and start a new transaction so that he can give her the blasted dollar she is freaking out about. As he's doing this, she is getting more frustrated because she doesn't understand what he's doing. I do because I've worked in retail, specifically in a gas station, and I know how you have to refund something. She doesn't ask him what he's doing, she doesn't stop to think that maybe he is trying to do what she is asking for. She only see's that he's ringing things in and doesn't understand. She finally throws down the ultimate in dissatisfied customer speech, saying 'Just give me my money back, I don't even want any of this anymore. This is the worst customer service I have ever received.'
That's when I stepped in. It was bad enough that she was totally abusing this guy, but I've been served by him plenty of times and he is a very nice gentleman and does his job well. I leaned over and said 'Ma'am, the problem here is you. His customer service has been fine. If you had started out kind and understand that mistakes are sometimes made, this would have gone a whole lot smoother.' And I knew what to expect next, her raging to turn on me . . . raging dragons and all. She starts telling me that I have no idea what I'm talking about and that he hasn't even looked at her blah blah blah. It continues for a minute, where I finally leaned over the counter, said 'I'm sorry, you don't deserve this' to the checker and walked out.
Because I really hate conflict, but I hate people who are bullies and abusive even more, I had felt the need to step into the situation. Was that the right move? Probably not. I didn't make me feel good. It actually made me feel a little sick because of the Adrenalin that was suddenly coursing through my veins. Having worked in his exact same position, I know how it feels to have someone totally verbally abuse you but because you are an employee you can't say something back. I felt like he needed to know that someone saw what she was doing and that it wasn't okay. But as I thought about the incident as I drove home, it really hit me that to have experience good customer service, you have to be a good customer. You have to walk into each conversation/interaction with a customer service employee knowing that they are in fact human and will make mistakes. Most people will try their hardest to rectify those mistakes as quickly as possible if you let them. Some are better then others, and some really suck at it. But surprise surprised, most people who suck at it don't last very long in a customer service position. But if you want to be like this lady tonight, yelling and in the face of the person she's trying to get service from, the person will do what is natural and normal. They will get flustered, angry, frustrated, annoyed and most of the time hate you for a few minutes. You won't get better service by yelling, even if you get what you want. People like that are bullies in every sense of the word.
So next time you have a bad customer service experience, try your hardest to be understanding. And remember that sometimes, the other person might be having a crappy day too.