16 December 2013

The Counter Point

I have been meaning to do this post for ages now, either in video or written form but for one reason or another have not gotten round to it.  I have seen a couple of posts today in the same vein that I wanted to talk about so I cleared some time and got my typing fingers out.
What has been rolling around in my head?  Customers, customer service and how courtesy works both ways.
The original piece I saw was from  a few weeks back from the ever fabulous Sera talking about how the customer service industry has been in decline and how you just don't get the same level of polite service and helpfulness that used to be expected when going into a shop.  I wholly agree, some places you practically have to do a dance to attact attention and a "don't care attitude" is found in a lot of stores.
That said though, I wanted to add more to the subject.  Because I am a person at the other side of the counter.  I am not faced with customers in a shop, I have clients on the other end of the phone who require updates on claims and want their money, tomorrow.
I was always trained to be polite, courteous and try to find a solution to any problem that may arise.  I have always found that a conversation started with a smile usually tends to go well.  However, what I get back in return can sometimes veer from the rude to the downright horrible (see my previous post We Have a Soul Too)
When will people realise that shouting and rudeness doesn't work when you want to resolve an issue?
I recently had a huge problem when moving mobile networks.  You may have seen a few frustrated tweets about the subject as literally everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.  It took well over two hours on the phone and four visits to the store before the matter was rectified.
What I didn't do during any of that time was shout, be rude or be verbally abusive.   You can easily put your point across that you are unhappy with the situation with resorting to the above.  I raised my issues in calm manner, gained a rappour with every person I spoke to and was patient while they tried to figure out the issues.  Yes it took a long time, but the issues were technical glitches and none of the faults were due to the people who were trying to help me. 
As a result, my problems were resolved, I was more than adequately compensated and I would highly recommend their customer service support.  They bent over backwards to make sure that I was happy and more than one thanked me for being so understanding.
It's Christmas now and everyone is slightly on edge, running around buying last minute Christmas presents and wondering whether you are going to get everything done.
"Christmas isn't Christmas without presents" said Jo.
I just ask that you take a breath before you are served at a till, speak to customer representative or make a complaint because the chances are, you will get a far higher level of service if you do and it won't leave both parties wanting to bang their heads against a brick wall.


  1. well put together and said!
    Obviously excellent customer service should be provided to us but, we must respect and treat the people who are trying to help with dignity! After all they are trying to help us !

  2. Thanks for the reminder. Great post.


  3. Very well put, Vicky! I worked in retail for nine years, and I always tried to provide service with a smile, and be as prompt and helpful as possible, what ever the situation. The least a business should do is show the customer respect. Sadly that seems to be a lost art these days, but I also think customers / clients need to show the staff respect, too, and have a little patience. No matter what the issue is, the vast majority don't deserve to be yelled at and treated like dirt by angry, impatient, arrogant arseholes. I think sometimes we have a tendancy to forget that the person behind the counter or on the other end of the phone is human, too, and is probably over-worked and under-paid, and doing the best they can. I sympathise with anybody who has to work in retail at this time of the year; if everywhere else is anything like my job, they'll be rushed off their feet, exhausted, and probably missing their breaks to help customers, who are often in need of more help, and are more impatient and stressed than ever, due to all the Christmas commitments they have to do. I can see it from both point of views, and mutual respect is definitely the key! xx


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