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1024px-Spinach_pizzaToday I tell a story and I do actually have a point for your creative biz – I just take a long time to get to it.

A couple days ago I called our favourite pizza joint in the city where we live.

We used to order from Pizza Pizza, but frankly, their pizza isn’t very good and combined with all the problems we’ve encountered trying to redeem our loyalty rewards (every time – not once, not twice, but 4 times they couldn’t get their shit together enough between the franchise and the head office to redeem our points without creating a huge issue between us and the delivery guy hotly debating payment in my driveway), we decided we weren’t going to give them our money anymore and started patronizing a place in town that rhymes with Three Poppings.

Better food, better deals – normally better service (no debates in the driveway while the food gets cold = WIN).
 
 

But THEN…

I like crusty people.grumpycat

It may be my missing the crusty grumpiness of my Dad since he died, or I could just generally enjoy the challenge of winning over the curmudgeons – but the lady that answers the phone at Three Poppings is always crusty as hell at first… and then ends up calling me “dear” by the end.

I like her.

I generally don’t mind her crabby short temper and I get a little thrill of satisfaction when she calls me dear or wishes me a good night.

“WINNING!!” I think and imagine more sunshine in the world.

WELP. This last time? We didn’t get to dear – we got to:
 
 
 
 

“I don’t care about you.”

 
 
 
 
and then she hung up on me.

WORST customer service choices EVER.
 
 

The Details

 
Every year Three Poppings sells a pizza deals coupon book with an expiry date on it.

Mine expires June 15, 2016.

The coupon book also advertised several pizza combo deals. I wanted the pizza / 2L pop combo. Yum.

When I called, Ms. Crusty told me that deal was no longer available.

“But… It’s on my coupon book.

Not available.

But… It’s on my coupon book. It doesn’t expire until June.

Not available.

But… It’s right here.

Head office changed the deal – it’s not me. It’s not available.”

Look – I get it. I get that Head Office does random shit that makes people mad and we have to deal with it.

There are a lot of ways that we can respond to our customers. Especially in situations like this.

I have a printed flyer from Three Poppings advertising a deal with an expiry date that hasn’t yet passed.

This is THEIR fuck up and they need to deal with it.

It’s not unreasonable to expect an advertised deal to be honoured up until the expiry date – regardless of what head office has decided.

There are a variety of ways to respond to my request – simply honouring the deal is what SHOULD have happened, or offer an alternative…

At the very least – hear your customer’s frustration and empathize with their position.

That is the holy golden core of customer satisfaction- most customers just want to be heard and for someone to understand.

I was rebuffed when I asked to speak to the manager. Ms. Crusty actually told me I should put my complaints online and she didn’t want to hear it.

She said she didn’t care about me and hung up.

SUPER FAIL.

 
 

How type A do you have to be to photograph a flyer to prove a point?

How type A do you have to be to photograph a flyer to prove a point?


 
 

I KNOW service

I’ve spent 30 years in sales and service.Overwhelmed

I know how hard it is.

I know how difficult it can be to serve the public on a daily basis.

I know how difficult it can be to have to deal with people who direct their anger and frustration at you because you’re the one standing there.

I know how difficult it is to try to not take it personal, and try and not feel powerless while you deal with the fall-out from decisions that are out of your control, for people that reap the benefits of their decisions without having to deal directly with angry, unhappy customers.

I understand how difficult it is – but that’s the job. It’s hard… And that’s the job.

It’s shitty that in our society we don’t value customer service roles as highly as they should be.

Companies want to hire “good customer service” people – but often aren’t willing to pay them for the soft skills they bring to their job that make them excellent at keeping customers loyal and happy.

They’re often not paid well and and the so-called “unskilled” nature of them implies that anyone can step in and work customer service satisfactorily.

That’s not true.

That’s not even remotely true.

We’ve all had shitty experiences at the hands of a crappy customer service rep – but the value of that experience tends to be dismissed as unimportant.
 
 
MayFeel
 
 
It’s not unimportant. How we treat one another is very important and not everyone is suited to be in service.

Service requires caring – caring, concern, compassion and empathy.

Actual real caring and empathy – and frankly some people suck at it.
 
 

When People Complain

DeleteCookiesAs an artist with a creative biz, you’re already living on the positive side of sensitivity and caring. Empathy is probably not a hard place for you to come to naturally.

In my own small biz I don’t get a lot of complaints. The vast majority are technical issues that are easily resolved (by deleting cookies and trying to log in again) and everyone’s happy.

However, I’ve had a few angry emails. Angry customers making demands and accusations and wanting me or things to be different than they are…

My first reaction was to feel defensive and want to retaliate with a fuck you email.

Luckily, I’ve learned not to respond when I feel angry.

That doesn’t mean though that we need to respond to customers with kumbaya and puppies.

Every communication with our customers is a chance to teach them how we want to be treated as a business and how we expect them to behave.

This has been one of the most liberating aspects of running my own business – the power to speak truthfully to customers about acceptable behaviour and boundaries.

As long as we seek to empathize and understand our customers’ needs, feelings and perspectives – there is no problem with establishing boundaries and restrictions.

Exceptions can and should be made when circumstances warrant.

The customer is NOT always right – but the customer should ALWAYS be heard and cared for.
 
 

The customer should always be heard.

 
 
Whether you sell originals, merch, workshops, classes, online or in real life – at some point, someone will complain. Giving your customers your understanding and empathy and allowing them to be heard will always be your best first choice.
 
 

P.S.

I went to Three Poppings to speak to the manager in person.

There is no way that I was going to put up with that kind of shit service from anywhere.

I left having re-established rapport with Three Poppings and Ms. Crusty, and holding 2 pops and a free pizza.

As I left Ms. Crusty called me dear and wished me a good night. #WINNING.
 
 
Inner Light Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1300021
 
 

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03.19.2009