Another Customer is Wasting my Time ….

Impatient woman making a phone callThat customer was me.  This weekend, my husband and I are going to do something we’ve never done before.  We are going to visit someone in prison.

In order to do that, an application form needs to be mailed in and it is then the responsibility of the applicant, us, to call to see if we’ve been approved.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting to hear a friendly voice on the other side of the phone when I called. I wasn’t disappointed, at least by the first person. Her telephone answering skills were lackluster at best.  A bored monotone voice, hurrying to get through the approved greeting is difficult to understand.  When I stated the reason for my call, I immediately heard a click, the only indication my call was being transferred.

And then, a surprise. The man who answered was pleasant.  He asked for our names politely, confirmed information and advised that yes, we had been approved.  When I asked about making an appointment, he immediately checked availability and confirmed a date.  I had more questions though and he answered each one politely and thoroughly, even though all that information had been provided on the application form.

Here’s what I think.  He took the time to get out of his shoes and put himself in mine.  He knew that a prison visit was something totally knew to me.  And so, even though the necessary information had been provided up front, he was patient and never once made me feel like I was wasting his time by asking stupid questions.

My two take-a ways from that one phone call?

  1. In some industries, not all, customers expectations regarding service are pretty low.  What an opportunity to stand out and create positive buzz about your business.  Depending on your business model, it may bring you new business or perhaps, it’s recognizing that if your customers feel they are being treated well, some of them just might be a little more pleasant in return.
  2. A reminder how important the ability to take a step back from ego and empathize is for service professionals. There are times we will be faced with angry customers. Many of  those times the reason for their anger will not be us; sometimes it will.  Customers will ask questions they already have the answers to or you at least think they should have the answers. We need to be able to let go of our right to be right and instead focus on the customer.