When #custserv (ice) is used as excuse to bludgeon and destroy. Fire The Customer


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I don’t much like fanatics under any guise, and I like them even less when they firmly attach themselves to the wagon of self-promotion. Sadly there ARE a number of people who consider themselves experts on customer service by virtue of being customers (golly that’s an exclusive club). That wouldn’t be problematic except that a fanatic coupled with meanness of spirit combined with social media means what?

Bludgeoning and attempts to attack.

So, I’m reading Twitter to see what might be the topic of tonight’s #custserv chat, and come across a tweet sent by MarshaCollier as follows:

Filthiest @Starbucks ever! (this is just the floor, eating counter has refuse too) http://twitpic.com/1t3srg

Marsha is the originator/moderator of the chat, and perhaps she’s best known as an expert on the topic of Ebay. She is trying to carve out a niche in customer service, according to her comments, and is intending to write book(s) on the topic.

So, here’s the question, an open one, in fact:

What motivates Marsha to post this? Two major possibilities: She sincerely wants to make a difference in a constructive way to someone, or she wants to throw rocks and is quite uncaring about whether she is being destructive.

Apart from other people chiming in with the comments about how shocked and disgusted they are (perhaps this is good for the soula of some people), are there any other hints? Hmmm.

MarshaCollier posts a few minutes later as follows:

Lets see if @Starbucks sees the tweet. I’ll be glad to reveal the location. :)

Inferring Customer Motive

To be honest the point here isn’t to vilify this individual but to use her as an example of someone who doesn’t appear to want to help fellow customers, the store manager, or even to determine if there are exigent circumstances causing the problem on the particular day she stumbled into the store. If an individual does nothing but take their “concern” to social media, and doesn’t first give the “offender” a chance to explain or rectify it’s safe to say that their motives are not constructive, and that agendas may be hidden.

It IS possible to infer destructive intent from what is missing, and in this case if the customer did not make any efforts to actually create a positive result, one can assume ulterior motives of the worst kind, AND if that’s the case, these complaints should be flat out ignored. Nothing will be gained by responding to a customer who is hostile and/or has an ulterior motive or hidden agenda.

This kind of manipulative destructive behavior (in effect behind the back of the person one is complaining about) falls into the category of hostile customer behavior (as outlined in Defusing Hostile Customers Workbook).

So, What Would A Constructive Person Do?

What would you do? Here’s a few thoughts.

  • If I was SO concerned, I’d talk to staff or the manager to give them an opportunity to explain and rectify.
  • If I was concerned about the health of customers going to that location, I’d actually GIVE the location, because otherwise it’s just useless negative comments.

What would I not do?

  • I would not take this to a public forum without first clarifying to understand the full situation.
  • I would not test to see if the company would respond on Twitter. That’s just childish.

We all come across customers just like this, who, for their own reasons want to damage reputations, and who just aren’t willing to work WITH a company to resolve a problem.

If I Was Starbucks (and what I teach customer service people)

It’s simple.

“I understand your concern about the state of the location, and while it should not be in that state, neither should our company or employees be subject to hostile attacks and manipulation by people who want to establish a persona or damage without being constructive. I cannot stop you from going to our many locations, but frankly, I hope you never enter one of our locations again. We do not want your business!”

In other words, do your best to fire the customer. Manipulative, hostile clientele are not your friends and never will they be. Better to take a stand as a company and suffer the slings and arrows than act with integrity and encourage guerrilla behavior from customers who simply want a forum to complain and attack.

PS. Did I contact Marsha before publishing this, so as to ask for explanations? No. And here’s why. People (customers) deserve prime consideration until such point as they act in bad faith, demonstrate unreasonable aggression or otherwise transgress societal rules. There is a point where that consideration is no longer due. Those that live by the verbal back stab don’t necessarily deserve more consideration than they provide others. But perhaps more importantly, they tend to take advantage of it (speaking generally).

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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