How To Avoid Crappy Customer Service

How To Avoid Crappy Customer Service

I have a confession. Poor customer service drives me bonkers. I know I’m not alone.

But is it really the entire fault of the person serving us? Could we, as customers, help make the experience better?

Let me share a couple of examples.

McDonalds Worker
After what seemed like an eternity watching her slowly move into action, a scowl planted on her face, I was starting to get antsy.

When robotically asked “Would you like fries with that?” I replied “No, but I’d like a smile thanks.”

Sure, it jolted her from autopilot but there was fat chance of getting a smile with my narky response.

Deli Attendant
My sunny greeting failed to wipe her frown so I tried another approach.

“Got anything lovely planned, to relax when you get home?”

Her face softened and she shared her difficulty in hearing because her ears were sore. Responding to my compassion, we discussed ways she could “rest up” afterwards.

She greeted the next customer with a bright smile and I went on my way.

It’s not rocket science to see how my behaviour influenced the customer service experience.

Yet so often we’re oblivious to what signals we’re sending to others, verbally and non-verbally. Given there’s almost a million non-verbal cues alone, it’s no surprise our behaviour can be misinterpreted.

So, here are some tips to help avoid it, while giving the customer and attendant a mutually pleasant experience…..especially leading up to the Christmas rush!

1. Acknowledgment – Lose the phone and respectfully greet each other. On a call? Wind it up first before expecting service…or not getting it. Or risk losing a customer by keeping them waiting.

2. Smile and make eye contact – Two easy ways to spark connection thanks to the bonding hormone, oxytocin.

3. Hack your emotions – Grumpy from bad service or a crappy day? Smile; it helps keep you positive. It’s called the Facial Feedback Hypothesis – put simply, not only do emotions influence our facial expressions; our expressions can affect our mood.

4. Use their name – Research shows hearing our name triggers greater brain activity including how we socialise. Check their name tag if wearing one. Or simply ask them, especially the regulars. Same for customers who frequent a place; connect with those serving you.

5. Positive opener – Ditch the throwaway lines. Ask how their day’s been, what’s been the highlight or if they’ve got anything exciting on. While potentially being caught off-guard, it’ll prompt the attendant, or customer to start talking. Research cited by the Science of People shows our brain focuses on ‘hits’ – if we say the word “exciting”, it looks for hits of excitement and we subsequently feel that way. Not sure what to ask? Try some conversation sparkers.

6. Use your words wisely – We suspected it and studies confirm it – the words we use influence the behaviour of others towards us. Want great service? Or got a rude customer? Try positive language.

7. Empathy – Sure friendship’s not part of the transaction but what’s the harm in caring and connecting?

8. Listen – One of the most sincere forms of respect while ensuring clear communication! And getting the product or service you’re after.

9. Compliments – Compliment the attendant on their expertise; they’ll be inclined to perform even better and live up to expectations, benefitting you and them.

10. Lastly, a tip for employers.
Do your staff share your vision, your values, your mission? Do they feel their job has meaning other than a pay cheque?

The answer is likely to be found in their motivation and treatment of customers.