Is the customer always right? Is he/she a king/queen and the service person a slave? Should the service person accept everything the customer says and does?
The reason why I want us to meditate upon the above questions is that I witnessed a scene as my friends and I were waiting for the gates to open at a jazz concert some weeks ago.
Just like many other customers, we were so much excited about the show and went there before the written time on the tickets.
As we were waiting patiently at the gate, a woman came from nowhere and passed in front of the queue. She insisted so much in getting inside this restaurant but thank God for service people like Hakeem who in spite of the rudeness of this customer; remained calm, smiling but firm.
I really do not want to believe that this woman behaved the way she did because she was a “muzungu” as this is unfortunately behaviors we often see in all social classes everywhere in the world.
Well, to cut the story short, this was a real embarrassment as this woman used negative and aggressive words towards the service person.
The other customers waiting felt so bad for Hakeem who remained professional.
Dealing with customers is such a tedious job that we have to recognize the efforts that service people put up in handling us. As customers, we are sometimes mean, unmannered, disrespectful, belligerent, nasty and impolite to service people.
It is not because we talk of customer service that we have to abuse the people who serve us. They are human beings with feelings and emotions.
They are not inferior to us. They are just doing their job and just like you and me, these service people have the right to civility and respect from customers.
You cannot pour all your anger on the service people you meet because you have a bad day or simply because you have your personal problems at home or at the office.
I heard of a story last time whereby the customer, after finishing his meal in a restaurant, told the waitress that he had left the bones for her.
How can you ever think of saying such insanity, such an insult towards someone who has just taken care of your stomach?
As a customer, if you treat service people with care, they will also show you the same care. I really want to say here that customers are not exempted from good manners.
Your good manners as a customer will attract good manners from service people. Your respect, friendliness and sympathy towards service people will generate the same towards you.
Anyone who works in customer service knows how difficult it is to be nice to rude people. But professional service people are those who do not yield to the temptation of returning rudeness to customers.
If you are in the service industry, rather than responding rudely and possibly losing your job, here are three quick tips that can help you cope with rude customers.
Remain professional and do not fall on the trap of unmannered customers as they just want to bring you to misbehave just like them.
Do not spoil your day because of such miserable people who do not know how to behave. Just remain calm, focused and well behaved.
Once the customer leaves, brush off the incident and continue serving your other customers. Remember the many nice and appreciative customers you have served.
The rude ones represent only 5 percent of your usual customers.
Do not take it personally
You can do this by politely ignoring these rude customers. This technique is hard, but effective. At times, a customer will rant and rave over an issue that doesn’t need to be.
Rather than getting mad or responding rudely, do not allow your heart to be affected by their rude words. Take a few moments to calm down. Learn breathing techniques and other exercises to help you relax
Anyone who expresses rudeness for no apparent reason, especially towards someone who is trying to assist them, is likely an unhappy person.
Remember that they had their own problem before coming there. Their bad day should not affect your mood and your day.
Let’s all try to remember that customer service is a two way thing. Much as we want service people to treat us well, let’s make an effort in showing them respect and we will surely benefit from good services from these great and courageous people.
The author is a customer service consultant working in Rwanda.