With a splitting headache, I recently pulled into a car rental lot, hauled all my luggage out of the trunk, dragged it into the building, waited in line and went up to the counter to check out, when… ACCHH!!! I forgot to fill up the gas tank! It was only three-quarters full. At that point, I had the painful choice of paying almost $5.00 per gallon plus a fuel service charge for them to fill it, or lugging my stuff all the way back to the car, leaving the lot to find a gas station, filling up the tank, and driving back.
Ever cost-conscious, I chose the second option. When the attendant saw me come back, I told her what had happened, and she exclaimed, “Oh no! I almost said something to remind you that the tank wasn’t full… but I’ve had too many people yell (and curse!) at me lately for doing exactly that, so I said to myself, ‘Forget it! It’s her problem!’ and just ignored it. I’m really sorry.”
WOW, what an eye-opener! She thought about doing the right thing, and actually wanted to do it, but hesitated because too many customers had recently berated her for trying to go “above and beyond” to help them. She told me they’ve accused her of “trying to get into their business” and have even gotten angry with her because they knew their tank wasn’t full but were late for the airport and didn’t “need her trying to make them feel stupid!” Really?
We so often blame customer service people for poor service, but the fact is that as the buying public becomes more and more rude to representatives who are simply trying to help, the representatives themselves are becoming more and more gun-shy about opening their mouths.
The big lesson here is that the more we hang on to the baggage that some (rude) people throw our way, the more we are tempted to assume that everyone is going to treat us that way… and we’ll never give anyone the benefit of the doubt. Therefore, my challenge to customer service representatives is to PLEASE attempt to do the right thing anyway. Try to let rude customer actions roll off your back; remember that each customer is different and should be treated as though they’re coming to you with a “clean slate,” could use your help, and will show gratitude rather than rudeness when it’s offered.
And my challenge to customers is to PLEASE treat customer service representatives with dignity anyway. Try to let the rude actions of previous customer service representatives roll off your back; remember that each representative is different and should be treated as though they’re coming to you with a “clean slate,” have helpful intentions and will gladly offer the service you need.
…and if it doesn’t happen, at least you won’t be contributing to the cycle of rude behavior that threatens to cause customer service situations to gather momentum and foster even more rude behavior in the future.