Tag Archives: customer service

Don’t be a douche. 5 customer service tips for dummies.

Marshall Field says, "Don't be a douche bag."

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.

2. STFU.

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.

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The kindness of strangers (aka My Blog is Awesome)

random-acts-of-kindness

I’ve got to testify.

Today was a weird one.

Somewhere between getting off the train in Hoboken and arriving at the Hoboken PATH entrance, I lost my wallet.

It’s not really a wallet.

It’s more like a change purse.

Let me explain.

I don’t dig the bulk of men’s leather wallets.

You can’t conveniently stow it away without generating an unsightly bulge within your garments.

Back pocket, front pocket, jacket pocket – it doesn’t matter.

Got a wallet? You’ve got a bulge.

So long ago I gave up the bulk for money clips and slim sleeve-like wallets.

My current card and money holder was actually a gem purse from Steven Fox Jewelers.

Don’t trip. It’s functional.

Anyway, it was this purse that was lost in the span of 300 steps.

You can imagine my surprise arriving at the PATH turnstiles, reaching into my pocket to retrieve my Metro card, only to find it gone.

I frantically performed a self stop-n-frisk confirming what I feared – I’d dropped my wallet.

All was not lost though.

I had only gone three hundred steps and my train just arrived at the station.

I could not have been in Hoboken for more than a minute.

I decided to retrace my steps back to the train.

The foot traffic was light, and there weren’t many people in the station when I arrived.

So I assumed if I didn’t see it along the path back to the train, it was either still in my seat or in the custody of a NJ Transit conductor.

But that’s just too clean.

Of course, it wasn’t along the path, on the seat or with either of the train’s conductors.

Arrggghhhh!

Don’t fret Stephen.

Head over to customer service.

Report your missing wallet and someone may turn it in.

That’s what “Lost and Found” is for right?

I broke it down to the nice Black lady inside the makeshift Customer Service booth, who took my info, handed me a little slip of paper with a number, and promised to call if my wallet was recovered.

When I asked her if there was a TD Bank in the area – so I could try to convince them to allow me to withdraw my money (with no credentials) to get on the PATH – she dug into a little box from under her desk and proceeded to hand me 11 dusty quarters.

That was the first act of kindness I received today.

Thankful for her charity, I went back to the PATH to buy a single ride to get to work.

But wouldn’t you know that when I went to pay with my 11 dusty quarters, three of them weren’t even quarters.

They were quarter-sized Canadian nonsense coins.

Ashamed I was even in this predicament, I retuned sheepishly to inform the charitable Black woman handing out dusty quarters, that she had given me slugs.

Thankfully she took the slugs, laughing heartily at her error, and dug out three genuine dusty quarter replacements.

Back to the PATH.

Copped a single ride.

Got on the train.

Annoyed the entire ride from Hoboken to 23rd.

Brooding over the fact that as soon as I got to the office, I was going to have to cut off all my shit.

At some point I was going to have to do the dreaded DMV dance to replace my license.

Request new key cards from the j-o.

And replace my COSTCO, AAA and loyalty cards.

Fuuuuuuucccccckkkkkkk me!

Got to the job in a funk.

Glared at the desk clerk, daring him to request the inane tap on the key reader to confirm I worked in the building.

Nigga you see me every day! Don’t even go there!

No pleasantries exchanged with riders sharing the elevator I rode up to the sixth floor, or my colleagues when I hit the door of the office.

Flopped down into my seat at my desk.

Whipped out my lappie and set it on its stand.

Flipped it open and noticed three emails in my Gmail.

The first one was from a Gabriela.

I’m a pimp. So, intrigued, I opened it and read:

Hi Stephen,
I found your wallet on the Path this morning. I work in Manhattan and live in Bloomfield. I Google searched the name on your license and found your blog and your email address. Please let me know if there is an address you would like me to send it to or if you would like to meet in Montclair so I can give it to you. I saw a Montclair address on your license. Let me know!
Best Wishes,
Gabriela

The second act of kindness.

I think I teared up.

I subsequently learned that the lovely Gabriela worked 12 blocks away on Broadway.

She was on her way to a meeting and offered to leave it with her secretary.

Two hours later, my beloved was tucked squarely in my buttoned back pocket.

And I was spared the agony of having to cancel and replace all my shit.

Now what have we learned?

Always check your person for your wallet before you get off the train?

No.

Keep a lil’ stash of moolah tucked on your person, just in case your shit goes missing?

Uh uh.

Publish a pseudonymous blog, so people know where to find you when you lose your shit!

PS Gabriela Moya, you’re an angel.

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uniqlo gets it right. Customer service with a smile.

My recent experience with Louis Vuitton has left me a bit…jaded.

But today, an interaction with two extremely helpful store associates at uniqlo brought me back from the brink.

The wife sent me on the unenviable task of finding some innocuous sweater at the uniqlo store on 34th Street, that she had seen online.

It wasn’t an ordinary piece of uniqlo clothing – oh noooo.

She was looking for an exclusive promotional item from the uniqlo undercover line.

Apparently, she spied this fashion forward line, that was only going to be here for one more season, and simply had to have a piece from the collection.

So off I went, on my lunch break, to try retrieve a bauble for my boo.

Imagine my dismay when I walked through uniqlo’s doors, and saw the sheer expanse of store stretching out before me.

The store legend on my immediate right told me that there were three floors in this labyrinthian space.

Undaunted, I forged ahead.

Women’s – 2nd floor.

Up the multicolored stairs went I.

2nd floor.

The massive women’s wear floor  beckoned.

Excuse me. Where can I find the ‘uu’ line?

Couldn’t remember the name of the line…uniqlo uniques?  uniqlo uniforms?

Damn! Damn! Damn!

“Um, that’s back downstairs, on the left side. Near the kids’ section.”

Back downstairs?

We’ll she seems to know what I’m talking about.

So down the stairs I trudged.

To the left…

Aha!

uniqlo undercover!

Now, where are the sweater tunics?

Was that what they’re called?

Damn! Damn! Damn!

I can’t remember what she wanted!

Text her.

What’s the name of the sweater you wanted? Was it a sweater tunic?

Send.

No response.

Call.

No answer.

Voicemail.

“Hey babe. I’m at uniqlo. What was the name of that sweater thingy?”

Nothing.

Search frantically through the racks.

After several minutes of fruitles search, I caught the attention of one of the many black clad store associates, to ask for assistance.

With a wide smile, she bounded off to see if she could help me locate the item I so desperately coveted.

Hither and tither, she weaved through clothing racks, trying to find me the tunic sweater?

To no avail.

Then, she asked if I had a picture of the item.

Whipped out my handy-dandy iPhone, pulled up their site and navigated to the ‘lounge dress’.

There was no ‘tunic sweater’ after all.

Still confounded, she snatched up a store manager, who happened to be passing by.

After a brief rundown from Nancy, he asked to see the picture of it on my phone.

I whipped it out, once again, and showed him.

“May I?” he asked double-clicking on the image.

How polite.

He pulled up the PDP (product description page), got the product number, and was off!

Like a bloodhound he went.

Up the stairs.

Down the stairs.

To the back.

To the rack.

Back to the back from the rack.

And then (after what seemed like an eternity – but was only about four minutes) be beckoned me over to the rack he had previously gone to and fro…

And there, in neat little bins, were the lounge sweaters!

My quarry.

They were folded and tucked into thin plastic bags.

I would NEVER have found them on my own.

I was elated!

I thanked him profusely and asked for both his name (Martin) and the name of the associate (Nancy) who had originally aided me.

I’m sending a letter praising them to whoever runs uniqlo so that they know how DOPE their store associates are.

I’m just saying.

A little customer service goes a long way.

Dude could have easily given up on his many searches around the store to help me find my item.

But he didn’t.

He went above and beyond the call of duty.

And for that, I am truly grateful.

Wife was pleased that my trip was successful.

And my faith in store-associate kind has been redeemed.

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