Do customers a service

Tamako Market screencap

And just be nice, okay?

Another podcast I’ve started listening to lately to stave off insanity is Thank You For Calling! hosted by Moisés Chiullan, also recommended to me by Ruben, a podcast about customer service. Ba da ding!

I’ve shot through all the existing episodes already, and the perspectives have been extremely interesting for me — someone who has recently entered into a support role. Although I’ve been doing support, inquiries and other kinds of customer service for a long time, no time has it held greater impact than now when a dissatisfied client could potentially harm the reputation of a company. Of course you hope it won’t go that far.

A visit to the grocer

I was reminded of this podcast today while waiting in line at the Thomas Dux nearby my workplace. As early as 8.15 this morning there was already a sizable queue waiting to be served at the checkout as the three staff members there slowly passed items through the scanner, or walked across and took their time looking for patron’s loyalty cards. Credit or EFTPOS cards were slowly passed through card readers. It felt like everyone was moving through treacle.

On the other hand, I was impatiently shuffling around. Some people need to get to work on time, you know!

Perhaps it wasn’t true, but the impression that the staff seemed to lack any caring or sense or urgency towards their customers was baffling to me, although sadly, it’s not that unusual a story. In particular it seems that staff at some Asian supermarkets or discount stores (if run by Asians) simply lack any sense of respect for their customers, often chatting to each other in their own language as they check out your items and treating you with a brusque manner.

Wait a minute, aren’t I the one paying you money? I could just.. not buy this stuff, if you’re so unhappy with parting with it.

Attitude on both sides

Attitude makes a big difference, even if we understand that we can’t be helped right now. How a situation is dealt with makes more of a difference than whether there necessarily is or isn’t a solution to the problem at hand. The episodes of Thank You For Calling! that stuck to me the most were the ones about the airlines, because I had the most understanding of the topic at hand (whereas I’ve never used ComiXology, for instance). It was clear from them that all that was ever required was an attitude of willingness to help and find a solution, even if their hands were currently tied at the minute.

That being said, it’s also important for customers to behave in an appropriate manner. Or staff under stress cannot be blamed for their brusque behaviours.

Although it’s too much to ask for these staff members acting as if they are entitled to change their ways (when you seem to be the ones paying them for a service), I will certainly be keeping all these points in mind as I move into my support role over the next few weeks. Although I may do it reluctantly at times and at times people simply jump in before I get the chance, I’ve always loved helping people, and I certainly will do my best to(o).

Tamako Market © Kyoto Animation/Usagiyama Shopping District