At this point in my life, my biography will most likely be titled Per my last email: A memoir of professionalism because stabbing is illegal.
Per my last email is professional speak for can’t you READ? See also: Don’t make me say this again. Basically, it’s the written equivalent of an eye roll.
Mistakes happen. Accidents occur. I get that. I really do. I’ve made them myself.
I think more customer service and professional issues arise from the inability to admit an error was made than anything else. Most of us are pretty forgiving when it comes to first-world issues.
The lost package quickly replaced. The damaged item returned without issue. The associate who says I am going to get to the bottom of this and does. All those get kudos from me.
I recently had a store bungle an order so badly we had to cross state lines — twice — to make it right. They still received a five-star review because they were capable, kind, proactive and owned the error every step of the way.
I was inconvenienced and still wasn’t angry. What did it take? A sincere statement:
“We are sorry we didn’t adequately prepare and wasted your time. It won’t happen again.”
“It’s all good. See you next week!”
Then we have the other times. The times when either the customer or the service just goes awry. Entitled people are a growing problem these days. People have internalized “the customer is always right” message to ridiculous standards.
I was happily working in a friend’s office, giving great customer service I might add, when a visitor came in and asked about tacking up an advertisement on their (privately owned) wall space.
Upon being advised that he was more than welcome to put his trailer for sale flyer on their freely provided bulletin board, he snarled, “Well it’s full. Maybe you need a BIGGER bulletin board!”
Seriously? I was dumbfounded. This man wasn’t even a CUSTOMER. He just wanted free stuff! Then he had the gall to complain? Who raises these people?
I have long said I don’t get enough credit for what I don’t say. What I did say was, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
It’s my all-purpose phrase. Depending on tone it can be sincere or dismissive. It just works.
On the customer side, things can get dicey as well. I recently went to (almost) war with the United Parcel Service.
Generally, I love those folks. They make most of my online shopping possible and are really great to have around. Their delivery people are generally top-notch.
Their telephone customer service, however, needs work. After a package was badly damaged in delivery, I accepted their apology and waited for my insurance claim they said would be there within days.
It wasn’t. It wasn’t to me within weeks, either. In fact, I can’t adequately explain the level of passing the buck and stonewalling that eventually ensued.
Endless emails, telephone calls and social media messages assured me that I either had already been paid (wrong), hadn’t made a claim at all (also wrong) or there was some other issue they couldn’t quite explain but my problem was very important to them.
(Nothing in their endless loop of doing absolutely nothing to assist me led me to believe my issue was even of passing importance to them.)
At one point I despaired of ever receiving my $121 owed to me. The bigger issue, of course, was that I would not give up.
I am that person who will spend $500 of effort to get my $100 back. Heck, I would do it to get my $5 back. It’s the principle of the thing. Principles, as it turns out, are a lot of work.
Let’s work together to remedy that. Denial is not an option. Repeat as necessary.
Customer service is an art form. I understand that. Customers can be exacting, demanding, rude and unrealistic.
If I’m on the phone long enough, my customer service voice might completely disappear. I don’t even know who that calm, pleasant woman IS.
On either end of the equation, I think learning to say, I am sorry, I made a mistake, and how can I help remedy this situation?, are all worth learning to say with a smile.
Meanwhile, check on your friends who are in professions that require them from refraining from saying what they may really be thinking. Per my last email, we are not okay.
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