The challenge that faces so many organizations and their people is that too many customers forget the role they play in this dance. Somehow, as customers, too many of us have evolved into thinking the burden of making things work falls completely on the service provider. Maybe we’ve been exposed to too many years of messages like “the customer is always right” (which hurts my ears every time I hear it). Maybe it’s just human nature to think money is the only thing we need to invest in business transactions and relationships. It’s as if the dollars we spend (or promise to spend, in many cases) are enough to make up for an arrogance that relieves us of any further responsibility.
That’s why I enjoy the website: NotAlwaysRight. It provides a steady flow of real examples proving how much some people forget their responsibility as a customer. Recently, while thinking about some blog posts for National Customer Service Week, I came across two perfect examples that show the value of being a better customer.
First, the “bad” customer:
(I am mopping the floor when a customer walks in and proceeds to slip and fall.)
Customer: “I’M GOING TO SUE! You could have KILLED ME!”
Me: “Sir, there’s just two things wrong with your plan. One, I have ‘Caution – Wet Floor’ signs all over the store.”
Customer: “Well I didn’t see them! I think I broke my leg!”
Me: “Regardless, the store is released of all liability because they are out in highly visible places, and you just fell by one.”
Customer: “I WANT YOUR MANAGER, NOW!”
Me: “The other thing wrong with your plan is that I haven’t mopped over there yet. The floor is dry.”
(The customer gets up on his ‘broken’ leg and scurries out.)
How many of us have had to deal with people who seemed intent on being difficult no matter what the situation? This customer is a poster child for customers who cause their own bad service.
The next example shows us the other side:
(It is a busy Sunday morning, and I accidentally turn my register off. It takes about five minutes for the system to completely reboot and get back up and running. In that time a customer has pulled into my drive-thru lane.)
Me: “Sorry, it should be just a minute before I can get your order in.”
(As I say this, my computer crashes and I have to reboot it again. Since there is a line of customers ahead of them, they can’t pull up to the window to order either.)
Me: *over the speaker* “I am so sorry about this! As soon as we get the line moving, I can get your order in at the first window.”
Customer: “Don’t worry about it; we’re not in a hurry. Take your time!”
(It takes two more minutes before I can get their coffee order in and they get to the first window to pay. They speak to my coworker.)
Coworker: “Hello folks! Sorry it took so long. Your order has been paid for already, so go ahead and drive up to the next window.”
Customer: “Paid for? Who paid for our order?”
Coworker: “Actually, the girl that took your order felt so bad about her computer crashing she paid for your coffees.”
(They leave a verbal thank you for me and leave. I think this is the end until an hour later the manager is screaming my name.)
Manager: “What did you DO?!”
Me: “I don’t know; what happened?”
(The manager shows me the huge tray of piping hot homemade cookies. Apparently the customer’s wife decided to repay my kindness and made us all cookies! Best day of work ever!)
Talk about going the extra mile! She went the extra mile and then some. Do you think this customer will be recognized next time she comes in for coffee? Do you think she’ll get Amazing customer service? I’d bet my mortgage on it.
In the end, being a better customer is nothing more than being a better person. It’s about being polite, considerate, respectful, kind, giving, warm and all the other wonderful traits that make us human. It’s about treating the people who serve us as good as they treat us, or better. Because being a customer doesn’t mean we don’t have to be nice. It means we have an equal and shared obligation to make the transaction or relationsip successful.
When I started realizing my role in the customer experience, it made it easier for me to be a better customer. The results were dramatic and fast. I almost always get superb service, because I go out of my way to treat people well. And maybe, just maybe that sets them up for a better experience with their next customer.
What are your personal customer experiences like? Are there things you could change to be a better customer?
The article was written by Kevin Stirtz