I have heard one too many complaints lately about customers and most of the complaints have been from people in customer service roles. They have come from kind of a wide variety of businesses but the majority have been from people working in the retail industry.
It’s those complaints and additional comments regarding customers that prompted this post.
While the complaints and comments have come from a variety of industries they all seem to have the same underlying theme…. “we” would have much easier jobs if it weren’t for these pesky, demanding customers.
Keep in mind that the vast majority of these comments have come from people specifically charged with caring for customers.
I find that amazing.
Now I don’t think they actually mean that they wish all their customers would leave; if they would just listen for a second to what they are saying I’m certain they would quickly realize how foolish they sound.
It’s a couple of other comments however which are really concerning. A couple of people I had lunch with recently work in the call center for a huge brick & mortar retailer with thousands of stores around the United States.
It became clear that they really believed a good many customers they dealt with on the phone all day were just plain stupid. They assured me however that they were experts in hiding that “belief” from those same customers. I think these two “professionals” honestly believed that the customers were so dumb that they could not tell the true feelings of the reps on the phone.
If you’re a customer service representative of any kind and you told me 1000 times that you had the absolute ability to hide your true feelings and emotions from the customers you interact with I would tell you 1000 times that you are wrong.
And I don’t believe in telling anyone they are wrong. But in this case you are as wrong a wrong could be.
You can only hide the fact that you believe the people you’re dealing with are stupid for so long. Sooner or later, likely sooner, much sooner, the people will figure it out. A few words here, a little tone of voice there and your “professional” demeanor is betrayed.
Your customers know whether or not you respect them. Your customer knows whether or not you value their business. They know when you think they are a pain in the butt. I mean seriously, you can tell when you’re annoying someone, you can tell when the customer service rep just wants to get you off the phone….well guess what, your customers can tell that too.
But that’s not the important lesson in this post. The lesson is this: your customers are NOT stupid. Yes, they may get some things wrong, they might not understand all your “policies” and they may at times exaggerate because they don’t trust you enough to take the matter seriously if they don’t. You likely do know more about their situation than they do but hey, you’re supposed to, you’re getting paid for it.
If you’re in any kind of position where you interact with customers you must treat with them the full level of respect that they deserve and I didn’t say deserve by accident. They aren’t just paying for your products, they are paying to be treated fairly and with respect. If you find yourself unable to do that on a very consistent basis then you need to find another line of work. Sorry to be so direct with that but hey, if you’re not taking care of the customer you’re not taking care of the business.
There is this great big hulking monster of retail out there largely unencumbered by bricks and mortar who will take care of your customer if you don’t and in doing so they will take your business with them.
In today’s business environment if you think that outstanding customer service is optional you won’t need to be thinking much longer.
Think about that!