They’re small phrases that sit front of mind for me often these days.
You see, I’ve been doing some work in customer service recently and I’ve become aware that there is a large number of people out there who think that if they thrown a tantrum, make threats to leave or not recommend someone that they’ll get what they want. They’ll be pandered to and be showered with gifts for their efforts. But why should we reward this behaviour?
I’ve seen the opposite side too. The people whose experiences were beyond comprehension and yet they remain calm and measured and understand that sometimes, these things happen. They don’t expect anything in return and they are grateful for the assistance we can provide.
I’ve seen how customer service representatives on the front line, in-person and over the phone do all that they can to help, only to be met with attitudes of expectation and “You owe me” language.
What we forget sometimes, if we’re having a bad day, or we’re just grumpy that they may well be genuinely trying to help. They may be adhering as best they can to the policies they are meant to stick to while bending over backwards trying to get the best outcome and we lash out. How does that help anyone? If we lash out, we get angry and fuel our own anger which doesn’t make us feel better, it makes us feel worse.
The same goes the other way around too.
I’m not saying you should just accept poor service, not at all. But be clear about what is reasonable and what is not. Be clear when it’s really the company’s fault or their their third party’s fault. Be clear that it may not be the fault of the person in front of you, on the line or in chat – they did not necessarily personally cause the issues you experienced so why hold them personally responsible?
Expressing your frustration need not be an excuse to treat someone badly or to not acknowledge their assistance in any way, shape or form. In fact, it can be easy to express it with dignity for both yourself and the person assisting you.
The point is to remember that we’re all human. So simple manners like please, thank you and you’re welcome should be staples in our vocabulary. We definitely should not be rewarding inappropriate behaviour from fellow humans. We should be treating one another with respect and we should be using our manners. And our reward for that should be our own sense that we have done good in the world by treating people as human beings.
Here’s a simple rule: If you want good service, use good manners.