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Thursday, March 31, 2016

The customer is always right? A Stamp Geek's take...

Simon and Garfunkel said it best when they belted out that they were "trying to keep the customer satisfied" oh boy ain't that the truth. In a customer driven business it is a well known fact that in order to grow and succeed you need a happy and satisfied customer base so, why is this easier said than done? One very obvious reason is that the customer isn't always in the right. I know there are many that would argue that it doesn't matter if your customer is right and for the most part they are correct. You should try to do everything in your power, as a customer driven business, to meet your clientele's needs. There are however circumstances where you simply cannot meet an individual's demands resulting in an unhappy and possibly lost customer.

For instance, when a customer's demands are unrealistic and unattainable that poses a real problem for the employee or business. In my old job (Health care) I used to hear a lot of complaints from angry clients who felt entitled to certain things because of ill health, old age or a general loss of control. I was able to solve most problems but without fail at least one person per day would ask of me something impossible to deliver regardless of how hard I worked. In these instances I would try to minimize the damage as much as possible and attempt to meet some of the demand being placed before me. As you can imagine, this would usually bring down my day. 

Another important point to remember is that everyone is different and so what constitutes a great customer service experience for one person may be less than stellar to another. For instance, when I go out to eat with my mother I am usually satisfied with the waiter as long as they are polite and moderately attentive. My mother on the other hand requires a great deal more to feel satisfied and when you do not measure up, you will hear about it. I'm not saying my mother is unreasonable she is simply from a different generation and ergo has different expectations than I.

Speaking of expectation, this plays a huge role in whether or not someone feels satisfied after an interaction or with a product. For instance, when I call Rogers I expect to have a positive phone conversation regardless of my issue because I've never had a bad one. This isn't the most logical way of thinking and if I ever do have a bad experience I will have no one to blame except myself. My expectations are based on my previous experiences so likewise if someone else has always had negative interactions with Rogers they will expect that when they call they will have a bad experience. Neither way of thinking is correct rather the best way to approach a situation is without expectation and to draw your conclusions from your current experience(s).

Likewise, a person's mood can impact a situation greatly. Human beings are emotional and even the most rational of us has the potential to snap when we are having a bad day. A Good example of this is the time I lost my credit card. Walking to obtain food with a friend on our lunch break (at old work) I somehow managed to misplace my VISA card. Those who know me best know I don't lose things often (imagine losing something maybe once or twice per year) so needless to say I was a bit of an emotional mess. I walked to the nearest Canada Trust and related my story to the teller and before I could finish she very politely let me know that she could not help and gave me a number for VISA. Now, rational Steph knows that there was nothing wrong with that interaction but upset Steph was not having it. I took the number without so much as a thank you and stormed off. If I had not been so upset about the lost card I would have felt great about the experience but because I was so agitated it threw off my entire game and I was completely dissatisfied with the service I had received. 

So, how do you manage unrealistic expectations, emotions, entitlement and moodiness and have your client leaving an interaction feeling good about your business and wanting to come back? This is tricky because as I mentioned before, sometimes you simply cannot satisfy everyone. For those who do have a satiation point I find listening to be the most affective way to diffuse and solve a client's problem. Sometimes someone is so fed up with a system or business that all they really need is someone to listen to them rant and rave about their particular problem. More often than not after they blow through their angry diatribe they feel better and arrive on the other side more rational and easy to communicate with. Offering someone options is another great way to help resolve a conflict with a customer. For instance, when a client or client family member would demand a specific time for service at my old job and I didn't have someone available to see them at that time I would offer them several times close to it. Usually that would make the client feel better because they would feel they had some control over their care and the interaction would end on a positive note. 

At the end of the day, you really cannot satisfy everyone and there is always going to be that one person whom you cannot please but I think as long as you keep a cool head, manage client expectations along with your own and try to limit emotional reactions you can and will succeed in a customer driven world. 

Stamp geek out!


  1. what did March's sales come in at?

    1. See my next post. Some interesting analysis there.