Thursday, July 22, 2010

On customer service (and humanity)

At work today, I was stuck [read: trapped] on the phone with a customer who knew the exact thing she wanted, but neither knew what it was called nor knew how to describe it using terms that could point me in the right direction. It became apparent early in the conversation that this customer knew more about the products than I did, as she was louder and more insistent than I was. It took a 20-minute session of explanation and re-explanation to assure her that I knew (kind of) what I was talking about, and then she asked for my name and schedule so she could come in and continue our delightful conversation in person. Grand.

During the phone call, I drifted between varying levels of concern and consciousness, ranging from mild interest to near-comatose, and at one point I settled into a rather dangerous line of thought: Why is it so rare to encounter a polite, empathetic customer? Such a thought is not dangerous in and of itself, but when it pops into your head at a moment of lowered inhibitions, such as when you’re about to smack a customer because they won’t listen to a damned word you’re saying, you could utter something you would regret. Well, I’m sure plenty of you out there wouldn’t regret speaking your mind, but I bet that you would rue the decision afterward when considering your new employment status.

Anyway, I digress. Why are polite, empathetic customers so hard to find? I guess that question begs a bigger, broader question: Why are polite, empathetic humans so hard to find? It’s not difficult to be nice, to be friendly, or to have manners, but I encounter incapable individuals on a near-daily basis. Everyone needs some reassurance from time to time that if life is getting you down, it’s just a matter of time before things turn around, but why is it that all too often such empathy is nowhere to be found? If you find yourself asking these same questions, make an effort to effect the change you wish to see. Smile at somebody, throw out a “thank you” or two, and remember that we’re all in the same boat together.

3 comments:

Sandman Moon said...

Ha ha! Your customers are EXACTLY like mine at the bookstore were! My favorite line in this post was: "During the phone call, I drifted between varying levels of concern and consciousness, ranging from mild interest to near-comatose" Ha ha! I have SO been there!

chubskulit said...

Very well said!

Following you back from Tag along, thanks for the visit.

Minima Sapala said...

My favorite type of customer is the flat-out insane one. At my last company, I had a guy who used to call me every month or so to talk about his drinking problem, how his wife wouldn't give him sex, and purina dog food (he said the factory was right across from his house). He never wanted to buy anything, he just called to chat. And he always ended the conversation, "Well. Thanks for talkin'!" I loved that guy.