Image by markolson via Flickr
Written by Karen D. Swim
The other day I had an inexplicable craving for a muffin. Out of my trusty Vitalicious VitaMuffins I decided to drive to the local Tim Horton’s coffee shop where they sell muffins that do not resemble a giant burger. I found myself standing in line with the morning commute crowd. It was not even 8:30 am and most of the people were unsmiling and clearly in a rush.
The cashier was a young girl who looked no older than 20 (Confession: these days anyone younger than 30 looks like a 12 year old to me). She was helping the gentleman in front of me and it was clear the transaction was not going well. The man was in his late 40s with graying hair. He was wearing dress slacks, a freshly pressed white shirt with thin blue stripes and a dashing blue tie wih red accents. He barked orders at the poor girl as though she were Cinderella, you know before Prince Charming whisked her off with her glass slipper.
She completed his order and sat his coffee down on as she rang him up. She handed him his change and he grabbed the bag. With a half frightened smile she then asked, “Would you like a sleeve for your coffee?” “I don’t even know why you have to ask!,” he bellowed in response. Looking as if she had been slapped in the face, she stammered something about paper conservation as the red faced man took his coffee and donuts and left in a huff.
As I watched the exchange, I felt sorry for the poor girl who was simply doing her job. I knew that she had not deserved the treatment she received.
We often speak of customer service from the perspective of the one providing service. Conversely, we spend little time on our responsibilities as a customer. Many believe that their money buys them a servant rather than service. This attitude can be very dangerous.
We all have bad days and a sour mood can seep out and poison those around us. Perhaps the man was having an incredibly bad day. Maybe he had a fight with his wife, his dog had an accident on his shoe and his kid threw up at the breakfast table. That could certainly set the stage for a less than pleasant morning. More than likely, he has little respect for the minimum wage worker in his local coffee shop. I have seen that type of arrogance and on good days the result is still the same.
The size of a person’s paycheck should not determine the level of respect they receive from other human beings. If we operate this way on both sides of the service equation, we will enjoy much more pleasant exchanges. Shouldn’t that be our goal anyway?
As a teenager and later a college student, I worked in a doctor’s office. The doctor was often late, sometimes due to surgery and at other times because he had a craving for a Falafel on the other side of town! I was the one who got to calm down irate patients. I was poked with canes, yelled at, given dirty looks and generally held responsible for the doctor’s tardiness. However, the moment the patient saw the doctor they were all smiles and kindness. Why? Well, they respected him and I was just a “worker.”
The bonus to being a good customer is that you also make it nicer for the people who follow you. Good cheer is infectious. Have you ever left a pleasant exchange with a little bounce in your step and a smile on your face? I know that good service has that impact on me and I have watched my good mood rub off on others. It’s nice when you can leave someone with a good feeling when you exit.
Good customers also sometimes receive perks. The person who serves you appreciates being treated with kindness. They will often go out of their way to make your experience pleasant. You may receive little extras or advance information about new products or services.
Even if the initial service exchange begins a little shaky, you can often turn it around with your good attitude. This is always preferable than allowing the exchange to proceed on a negative note. Being a good customer is not a guarantee for excellent service everytime but it goes a long way to creating a good service environment.
Do you have a service story that you’d like to share – good or bad? How do you ensure that you give and receive good service?
Related articles by Zemanta
Thank you so much for reading! Subscribe to keep up with the latest posts and feel free to spread the word!Get free updates via RSS or email.