11 Sep Basic Manners and Customer Service
The other morning I went to pick up a breakfast sandwich. Chain restaurant, near my house, nothing special but it does the trick. They messed up my order, giving me the wrong sandwich – information I did not determine until after I had driven back home (grrrr…) so I did something I don’t normally do.
I drove back to get the sandwich I ordered.
Walking back into the restaurant and to the counter, I explained what happened to the cashier. His first question was a rough, “what I had ordered?”, quickly followed by making a new sandwich, refunding my order and offering me a bakery treat. They do what we all do with an unsatisfied customer – make things right. Or at least how we define ‘right’. Because of the four people I interacted with during this process (including a manager), no one said they were sorry.
It is funny how when you skip the most basic of manners, all your other efforts to ‘make it right’ are overshadowed. I didn’t need a refund or bakery item. I needed my inconvenience to be validated and to feel heard. An apology would have been enough.
We see a customer’s complaint as an inconvenience, another problem we have to solve and often as a personal attack. We get defensive, we justify and emails get snarky when all we need to do is listen and validate. I firmly believe a client’s unreasonable anger does not reflect the work we did but rather their insecurities, their uncertainty, and their projected stress. It is easy to lose your sh*t over the wrong table linens when you are really covering for the fact that you just married a jerk.
We are all desperate to be heard and to be heard, you have to first listen.