Customer Service is becoming a crucial element in maintaining any legitimate business, no matter what you provide. If you get this wrong it can explode over social media so your best course of action is to engage you clients in an appropriate way.
What got me thinking about the importance of customer service is an incident that occurred about a month ago. I was picking up a part for my car and my next door neighbour kindly offered me a lift. On the way back we stopped into a pump supply place as he was having a problem with a new air compressor. He had been issues with the performance of the device and the attitude he was getting from the companies service department was not the best, they were accusing him of not using it correctly. Whether or not this was true these days you expect a helpful response from customer service, not accusations.
He proceeded to explain to the owner the issues he was having and while he sounded a little upset he was still polite. What happened next was interesting, the owner proceeded to tell him that he was “the owner of the business” and “didn’t appreciate his attitude”. Now this may not seem that bad however the manner in which he said this was very condescending. My neighbour apologised for offended the business owner and we left. One thing that stuck out for me was the business we visited before this incident was polite and courteous which was a stark contrast to the business in question.
Now what do you think happened next? You’d be correct if you’re thinking we discussed the event. My neighbour of course would not be dealing with that company in the future and if anyone asks him where to get something that this company offers he is not be likely to recommend them, nor will I as while I thought while my neighbour sounded irritated I don’t recall him ever being abusive. So instead of taking a customer is always right attitude he went for the “i’m in the right” defence. So instead of trying to resolve the issue he has not only put one person off his business but two.
Being arrogant and condescending is something I saw allot of when I first came into the IT industry over 20 years ago. It has thankfully been something that has for the most part gone away, though I have still come across these sort of people though this has mostly been in the bowels of big business and government. In most other places IT people are expected to everyone with patience and civility. The interesting thing that has happened to me is when I treat someone in a friendly and polite way even the most irate people have calmed down. We all like to vent from time to time, you may as well let them get it off their chest.
One of the hardest lessons to learn is that no-one thinks they are in the wrong. In the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” on Page 4 Dale Carnegie states that Al Capone saw himself as a public benefactor, not the violent criminal that history sees him. Now if a violent criminal thinks he’s in the right and a good guy it is likely that the last person you quarrelled with also thinks they are in the right.
So in concluding this article it is a good idea to treat your people with respect and to remember that while you may be in the right, it’s quite likely they are as well (remember there are two sides to a story) and no-one really wins an argument through belittling someone else. You are far more likely to win by finding a mutually beneficial middle ground where both parties get what they want, your customer gets the service they expect and no doubt deserve and you get good word of mouth and a happy customer which is worth more than all the marketing and advertising you can afford.