How to be a Good Customer

…also known as How to Behave as Your Mother Taught You!

Monday morning, I experienced how being a good customer (aka PERSON) can lead to much more than a good cup of coffee.

At the breakfast buffet, I sat quietly while my very beautiful waitress poured me a cup of coffee. I observed her accent and asked her where she was from…

“The Ukraine” was her answer. I was intrigued and asked her if she missed home. She said that she’d been here a year and was here with her fiancee, so it wasn’t so bad. I agreed and smiled as she left to serve other customers.

There was a less friendly lady near me that believed she was entitled to a free buffet, but had no card saying so. She loudly discussed this with our server; who quietly asked her manager to verify. The manager continued the discussion and then checked at the front desk for the woman. It turned out, her group rate didn’t allow the complimentary breakfast. The woman still loudly insisted. To which the manager calmly explained that she could take it up further with the front desk. She stormed off with her laptop, “It’s on the website”!

When she came back, she explained to her companion that she indeed was wrong; that the group rate didn’t allow the free breakfast. She laughed it off, saying the print was so small. No apology to either our server nor the manager about the scene she’d caused.

After that, I noticed that no one went out of their way to do extra for her. They served her well, but not extra.

In the meantime, for me, the server kept my coffee topped up and warm and asked me where I was from. I asked her more questions each time she came to my table. I learned these things about the beautiful girl from the Ukraine:

  1. She’d been here for a year and was here with her fiancee
  2. She also modeled sometimes as another job
  3. She used to dance ballroom dancing in the Ukraine and missed it
  4. She is too busy working to have fun with her dancing
  5. But, she does have a cat and that makes her happy
  6. She’s been to Calgary once before and found it very beautiful there
  7. She works here every day and likes coffee too 🙂
I tipped her well as I left. Partly because I wanted to truly say Thank You and apologize for that other woman. Partly because I believed that this was a hard-working young woman, trying to make her way and I could help a little at least. Partly because I felt so good getting to know that this server also happened to be a person with hopes, dreams and a gorgeous smile.
The lesson about being a good customer? Take the time to see that the person serving you is just that; a PERSON who deserves courtesy, respect and a friendly smile. You’ll be surprised at the affect it has on them, and most of all, the affect it has on YOU!
UPDATE: and this morning I learned that she rides the bus to work and that the weather outside wasn’t as nice as the day before.
And my coffee NEVER got cold…and I started the day by saying “Hello” to a new friend 🙂

I’m Stumped

I’m really stumped….

As many of you know, one of my resolutions fir the year was to accept the fact that I’m working where I am for now and I resolved to make the best of it.

Well, needless to say, this week has been like a giant snowball, careening out of control and getting bigger all the time! I feel completely out of control of anything!

I resolved to accept the things that I cannot control, but at the moment, I feel like NOTHING IS actually in my control! Not one thing! I feel completely helpless. And most of all, like a complete failure!

I need help. I need advice. I need guidance. What should I do?

Should I focus on getting at least one or two processes in place so that at least something is written down? Right now, we just try to remember what was done before or “wing” it. Nothing is tracked, no issue tracking, no inventory, no step by step at all.

Should I focus on trying to create a task list of some sort to try to organize all the jobs that need doing? Prioritize and group things for efficiency? Right now, it’s just fire fighting and whoever yells the loudest!

Should I ignore all the issues and focus on the proactive, creative, teaching stuff that have the potential to help people BEFORE they have to ask & are frustrated?

This academic year has had the most outages, most issues, most confusion than any other that I have seen in my 10 years here. I don’t know if it’s just me or if I’m imagining it? People across campus keep telling me I’m right, but maybe I’m just crazy? It sure feels like it each day!

What should I do? Should I spend some time searching for tools that will help us get some control? Should I spend time on creating a more positive image of what we ARE able to do to distract from all that is breaking? Should I focus on stuff I can fix? (most of it, I can’t – that’s what’s out if my control, always has been)

Help! I don’t know what to do. I want it to be better, but the week sure hasn’t been….ideas? Thoughts? Tell me I’m crazy? Anything!?

Thanks friends!

A Lesson in Customer Service

I’d like to think that I’m a bit of a customer service “pro” since I do A LOT of that in my real life and consider it a “calling” and something I’m very passionate about. I’m often found saying things like, “Everyone should have to do ‘time’ in a customer service role, just so that they know what’s it’s like the next time they yell & scream at a customer service person!” I’m sure it would help anyway! 🙂

One thing that I’ve learned over the years that I’ve been in this field, is this: Treat those that are your most “difficult” customers extra special – try to go above and beyond for them.

Now, before you get upset and say, “They don’t deserve it!” or “That’s impossible!” – hear me out!

I will give you that for some people, you can just never make them happy. And that’s true. However, I have learned that even those people can be more civil when you are giving and civil to them FIRST.

I will also give you that I have NOT always been able to do this myself! Especially for some particularly difficult people. But, I am MUCH better at this now that I’ve been on my Happiness Project. Let me explain:

As my regular readers know, I am looking at life in a different way. I am more accepting of things I cannot change. One of these things are the difficult people that we have to deal with on a daily basis. Another is that I need to be true to myself and not care so much what others think. Both of these things that I’m getting better at has helped me deal with difficult customers.

Compassion goes a long way in customer service. We don’t know what kind of day this person is having or what troubles they have in their life. Why not be a shining star for them? What would be the harm in saying, “I understand your problem – let me see if I can help you!” or even just saying, “Wow, that does sound like an issue. Let’s try to come up with a solution together”

Sure, they may have come in yelling and screaming with their eyes blazing. I am willing to bet that if you emphasize with their problem, SMILE honestly and put yourself in their shoes, the situation will turn around.

I have done this a lot lately with some of the more difficult customers. I’ve listened, I’ve jumped up and tried to work on the solution with them rather than ignoring it (hoping it would go away). I have tried to be a beacon of hope in an atmosphere that isn’t very understanding right now. I have at least tried to understand and do what I can.

What I’ve noticed: Those people have begun to be much more civil when they come in now! Saying things like, “You’re always so good to me” or are more understanding of waiting times etc. I’ve also noticed a VERY big difference in how I feel about the situation. I am not tense and worried about what they’re going to say next. I feel like a “bigger” person for getting past the negativity and trying to be just a little more positive. In the end, both of us benefit from the incident rather than both going away upset! I have been a little surprised at that – that it has made that much of a difference.

Again, I don’t know what that person is going through in his or her life. But if I can be a beacon of light for just a minute or two, maybe it will make a difference for them. It certainly doesn’t do any harm at all!

What do you think of this idea of being extra helpful to those more difficult customers? Add your thoughts to the comments!