The Bigger Person And Customer Service

Customer service may not always be great, but sometimes there can be a reason we don’t why behind it.

Treating a rude customer service rep with kindness can have positive results.

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Now I'm not one to usually complain about the customer service I receive out and about … well, I don't usually complain to the person or boss of the person who has treated me rudely; I may complain to anyone else who will listen. In general, I'm pretty easy going. Yet when faced with someone I feel is rude every time we interact, the same person at the same place that I frequent, is a bit much even for me. So this person acted rude to me the other day, and I was quite miffed. So miffed, that some thoughts went through my head such as, “I'm gonna tell her boss that she is always rude to me,” or “I'm going to ask her coworker what her name is, and what her PROBLEM is … ” and somehow make my feelings known.

Then I thought about the rude scenarios, and realized that unless I could very clearly represent the TONE of her voice when she said what she said, no one else would “get” how rude she really was. So I thought that it might be difficult to complain to her boss. In a quandary, I wasn't sure what to do, so I let it go for the day. The next day, there she was at the counter on my way out. Some thoughts entered my mind, such as, I'm gonna be rude and just walk right by her, and not even acknowledge her if she says anything to me. Shorter thereafter, I felt like a bit of a bratty child. So I decided upon a completely different course of action.

I went up to the counter, and waited a moment until I had her attention. Then she gave me that typically sarcastic smile and “can I help you?” and I apologized. Yes, I apologized. I told her, “I'm sorry for yesterday, I was in a hurry, and I felt I interrupted you and the other customer, so I apologize.” She was, well, stunned! She was pleasantly flustered, and said she didn't even really remember me BEING rude, but thanks for the apology.

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Even better, there was a coworker standing nearby who joined in the laugh, who also appreciated the fact that I apologized for whatever it was that was forgotten by her colleague. This otherwise “rude” person smiled at me, thanked me, and wished me a great day. Now, when I go by her again, as I'm sure I will because I visit this place of business daily, she will remember me not as “the rude customer who interrupted me and has an ‘attitude,'” but the customer that apologized and went out of her way to be remembered in that positive light.

That made me feel really good! I realized that my intention was never to get her “in trouble,” but merely to have her appreciate me as a fellow human being and treat me nicely. Guess what? This was a much better tactic than calling her out for being rude. So just a little tip, keep in mind the result you are trying to produce, and the ways in which you might get there. The path of least resistance might just be the right one, to choose to be the bigger person!

3/21/2013 2:38 PM

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