Marshall Field says, “Don’t be a douche bag.”
If you’ve been following the interwebs, then you’ve likely come across the story of the Comcast rep who fought the customer trying to cancel their service.
If you’re not up on the incident, a mini-recap is in order.
Dude wants to cancel his service. Wife calls Comcast and is abused by the rep for about 10 minutes. Frustrated, she hands the phone to dude, who is similarly abused for another 10 minutes. Inspired, dude decides to start recording and captures the last eight minutes of the rep’s totally ridiculous behavior.
You can listen to the call here.
As someone who suffered under the oppressive yoke of Comcast before Fios gave us free, I was not surprised by the shitty customer service experience.
And as someone who has experienced shitty customer service from brands like Louis Vuitton (I know how Oprah feels), I realize that customer service is no longer a self-explanatory term.
Every day, we are all faced by people in customer service roles that could give a fuck that their job is to be helpful, and instead have cultivated the art of showing you their full asses.
How many time have you been condescended to? Cut off? Passed inaccurate information? Yelled at?
Far too often, I’m sure.
So today, I’m sharing my top five tips for not being a customer service douche.
1. Remember that the customer is always right.
When I was growing up, I heard this maxim over and over: “the customer is always right.”
Businesses knew that customers kept them in business, and they knew that they had to keep their customers happy. How, pray tell, did they do that? By teaching their public-facing reps that their job was to keep the customer happy. Happy customers meant more sales. More sales meant higher revenues. Higher revenues meant profits. Profits allowed the business to thrives. Ergo, happy customers equalled a thriving business.
If businesses treated their customers like kings and queens, they could never go wrong.
I used to work with a dude who would routinely black out on customers. He was so abrasive, so condescending, so insulting and dismissive, that I marveled at his ability to keep his job. As project managers, we’re frequently on the receiving side of abuse, so inwardly, I rejoiced at the “Fuck you!” he routinely doled out.
But outwardly, I was more often alarmed about how poorly he understood his role. His whole attitude demonstrated that he didn’t get the fact that his behavior was a reflection of the brand that employed him. My advice to him, which he failed to observe – ultimately to his demise – was “hold your tongue.” When you’re feeling frustrated and want to go off on your client/the customer, take a breath and shut the fuck up.
3. “I’m sorry.” and “Thank you.”
When customers are mad, you’ve got to recognize they’re looking for scalps. Invariably, by the time they reach you, they’ve already run the gauntlet, gotten the run-around or are simply so frustrated with whatever it is they’re dealing with, that the need no excuse to go thermonuclear.
There are no greater calm-inducing words, than “I’m sorry.” When you say “I’m sorry” as a customer service rep, you’re telling the customer “this is our fault” and putting yourself at their mercy. Similarly saying “thank you” throughout your interaction, even for the slightest thing, helps to establish that you’re appreciative of the customer working with you to resolve their issue.
4. Never bite the hand that feeds you.
Always remember that the person on the other end of the phone, opposite you at your desk, or on the other side of the counter, directly or indirectly pays your salary. In essence, the customer is your boss. If you wouldn’t tell your boss to (proverbially) kiss your ass, you shouldn’t tell the customer either.
If you treat the customer like your next paycheck depends upon how satisfied they are with your interaction with them, you can’t go wrong. Unless you don’t like money.
5. Don’t be an asshole.
At the end of the day, when someone is having a problem, which you’re in a position to assist them with, your attitude is the last thing they want to deal with. Sure, the customer may be a total jackass, with no home training, and just because you picked up the phone, you’re in their crosshairs and the object of their abuse.
But their lack of home training doesn’t give you license to treat them badly. If you can’t figure out if you’re being an asshole or not, act like you’ve got your grandmother on the other end of the phone, and treat them accordingly.
It’s really quite simple: Keep the customer happy. Keep your job.
Or you could be like the jackass from Comcast – who may not have his by the time the dust from this debacle settles.