As hard as it is to admit, I used to be an abhorrent customer.
I expected peak professional service and utter competence. When I didn’t receive precisely this, I would ensure the staff providing the service and their employer (if “necessary”), were made aware, in detail, of how I perceived this failure.
It wasn’t always like this. I wasn’t born with the inherent desire and fantastic ability to destroy the work day of others. This finely tuned vulgarity toward those who had the grave misfortune of serving me developed over many years and didn’t cease until I was a fully fledged adult.
I convinced myself that if I clearly articulated my complaint, emitting swearing, name-calling or wild accusations, that my behaviour fell well within the brackets of (acceptable).
Why? If that were the case, lawyers would have groupies. Panties would be slung in courtrooms. The fact that I didn’t behave like that to anyone else made it more perplexing.
I decided to figure out why I believed it was acceptable to behave in such a grotesque manner the moment I became a customer.
Idiot sandwich recipe
Step 1. Add 1 cup of concentrated shite and stir until thickened
I was acting out behaviour I learned to be not only acceptable but, expected.
I small portion of my learning was courtesy of jerk customer’s I was misfortunate enough to have served. However, I didn’t become a vagina adjacent simply by being exposed to aholes. It wasn’t a direct currency conversion.
So where did I get this alleged “superior knowledge” of professionalism? My previous employers.
Step 2. Add 2 kilograms of shite enhancer and bake for years
The greatest impact on the development of my attitude as a customer was my previous employers’ behaviour toward me in the face of a customer’s rampage. I took lessons from this in what was “acceptable” and “expected”.
When a customer rained terror onto me, my previous employers were always all in, supporting and encouraging the customers’ behaviour. Whilst, on the other hand, insisting that I had all but my employer’s best interests at heart.
My employers commanded I twist and wain at every criticism, accusation or inappropriate demand wailed at me by a customer, blaming and shaming me. After all, if I had effective people skills this wouldn’t have happened right? I’m clearly lacking emotional intelligence and customer service skills, right?
How did I have the audacity to apply for a job and show up to work each day, clearly unarmed with the required skill set? The only conclusion to be drawn is that I was unprofessional in every regard and I must have lied in my interview. Shame on me.
Step 3. Cut and serve and desired
This quintessential combo normalised banshee behaviour in the role of “customer”, as distinct from “human”. I learned that, how I thought or felt the moment I became a customer, was at the mercy of the person serving me. All irritation or inconvenience, real or imagined, as a customer was the service person’s doing.
I was merely a victim in all of this. Surely I couldn’t let them get away with this! After all, I was never permitted such indiscretions, so why should they.
Clearly, the service person was unprofessional and incompetent. Why else would I be agitated? There can be no other explanation.
So I did the community a service and fought back against the tyranny of poor service, on behalf of all victims everywhere. On behalf of humanity, I forced my “superior knowledge” of professionalism and service onto my assailants. Somebody had to do it and I was perfectly trained for the job. You’re welcome.
When that customer hat slips onto the average person it often catches the entitled asshole switch. The service person being an epic fail is merely one of the infinite possible causes of a customer’s subsequent explosion.
Some of the time a customer is venting their own personal issues. All of the time the customer is responsible for their own behaviour.
Home internet down? Dropping out just enough to propel me into a shooting spree? Need to call the provider and have it resolved?
Since my awakening, I choose to treat all service persons with dignity and everyday human decency. I choose my behaviour regardless of the behaviour others choose for themselves. No matter how many times a product has given me false hope and especially when the person I am dealing with didn’t cause the issue.
Faced with lazy customer service giving me the solid impression I’m wasting their time? It sure as hell isn’t because their job is amazeballs and they’re crushing it in the salary department. Why is that my problem? Because I’m a decent human who cares about other living beings.
Plus, a lecture about laziness only takes me further away from where I want to be – cosied up with whatever it was I was seeking to begin with.
Unleashing the beast is not going to compel anyone to provide me with better service or solve my issue. It’s not. It’s only going to compel them to feel shite, making the idea of doing anything for me even less rewarding, feeding my own annoyance.
Most businesses have a complaint process in place and others have regulators who will lend an ear to a complaint. Escalating a courteous complaint is easy peasy.
The perks of shitting rainbows
It is much easier to do nice things for nice people.
The most significant perk in being courteous and patient is that the organisation will trust you enough to offer solutions when things fall short. Learning this was an incredible eye-opener. It undeniably improved my life.
If their product or service has failed, shouldn’t they provide solutions anyway? Not all the time and obligations here are limited.
In any event, being courteous and kind gives them space to understand and ask you questions to find the parameters of the issue. They may even be able to teach you how something is used/provided etc. Your own ignorance could be the cause of your annoyance.
More substantially, the organisation will be free to exhaust its solutions with you. This has a compounding benefit.
1. It adds validity of your complaint
If the organisation has indulged in free reign to solve your issue and the issue remains, the chances of it providing you with the remedy you are seeking increase substantially.
Who wants to suggest an alternative solution to a wailing bridge troll. The person is often too busy talking crap to hear what is being said, and too overcome with entitlement to consider the assistance being provided.
Plus, what if the suggestion doesn’t resolve the issue? It’s only going to agitate the grizzle monster and now they have something else to complain about. So, the organisation pulls the pin on the one solution most likely to succeed, hurls it at the gargoyle and takes a long dive away from the explosion.
I remember a friend venting to me why she was unable to help a customer, “every time I say or do something he complaints”. Get out of your own way and let business say and do what it needs to in order to resolve your issue.
2. It might resolve your issue
This one is self-explanatory. Sometimes the solution most likely to succeed does not succeed. Sometimes, the 2nd or 15th potential solution is sheer brilliance. However, you’ll never know unless the organisation trusts you enough to offer them to you.
3. It may improve the service you receive overall
You may have a change of heart after learning how much effort the business put into resolving your complaint. The business may be genuinely grateful for your kindness and find themselves giving you a VIP service.