Is it Time To Rethink Customer Service So We Stand For Something? #custserv


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I’ve often wondered why at least some customers think that their fellow human beings, who just happen to work for companies the customers visit, as punching bags to unleash their venom upon when things go too slowly, too quickly, or too anything. Since I’ve spent a substantial part of my career helping employees deal with aggressive, unreasonable and angry clients in professional and calming ways, I suppose it’s not surprising that’s what I think about.

More recently though, I’ve been shocked at some of the things I’ve heard “customer service professionals” (that would be consultants, trainers and advocates) come out with. Many of the statements sound good on the surface, until you think about the implications — the things they are asking of fellow human beings.

I think maybe it IS time we rethink customer service and keep in mind that it is a business function, not a right designated by some higher power, and that the relationship between a customer and an employee helping that person should be based on MUTUAL respect, and OBLIGATIONS on both sides, just as we would desire those things in any relationship. A customer deserved nothing more and nothing less and the same applies to the employee who is helping that customer.

When Kate Nasser wrote “An authentic smile changes everything. ” to her cohorts monitoring the #custserv hashtag/chat, not a person challenged that, and of course, on the surface of it, it makes perfect sense. It’s not “wrong”. It’s just impossible to do each and every time. Other comments on the chat by customer service “experts” have suggested that one is born to deliver customer service, as if it’s a religious calling. While we can argue about whether that’s true or not, once again, it’s just impossible.

This is rather scary stuff, where we have experts suggesting that one dedicate one’s life to delivering customer service, like it’s a priestly vocation, because it’s asking the impossible. It’s denying the humanness of the people who help us (or sometimes even ignore us) in restaurants, hotels, retail stores, professional offices).

I’m wondering if whether these customer service advocates should stop acting like customers and start acting like professionals themselves, and vend advice that is real, practical, honest and treats those serving customers as humans, NOT servants, and not slaves.

Shift To Balance

What I am advocating is balance. Customers are not RIGHT, and customers do not have entitlements, but then again, those employed to help customers don’t have entitlements to receive salaries and commissions if they are rude or treat customers badly. We need better balanced standards that protect the dignity of all parties, based on what is reasonable and fair, not on some weird confrontational game where customers are out to get all they can as cheaply as possible and customer service reps fight back — fire with fire.

One thing is sure. Something is wrong when customer service experts lecture on how one must be born to be a customer service rep, or that you have to genuinely smile each and every time. How about if we start with reasonable boundaries, and work to create reasonable expectations for customers, even at the expense of losing some of the more demanding unreasonable ones?

Stay tuned. Lots more coming on this topoic.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Robert Bacal
Robert began his career as an educator and trainer at the age of twenty (which is over 30 years ago!), as a teaching assistant at Concordia University. Since then he as trained teachers for the college and high school level, taught at several universities and trained thousands of employees and managers in customer service, conflict management and performance appraisal and performance management skills.


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