Be a good customer

There is always talk about poor customer service.  I personally think we also need to be better customers.

The truth is what we need is a mix of both. Since there is tons of discussion on good service, I’m going to focus more on the consumer side today.

Imagine being yelled at about a problem that you did not create.  The person on the other end just had something happen to them by the company you work for. You are talking to this person for the first time, but they are screaming at you like you just popped up in their lives and smashed a windshield.  Perhaps they are telling you their whole life story and several days worth of turmoil. There is so much pressure to keep calm, get the other person calm, and still rise above and restore this person’s faith in the product at hand.

Being a customer is almost the only time we yell and could potentially get rewarded for it. It’s the public version of an adult temper tantrum. And some companies have policies that reinforces this treatment of their employees.  “Sure we will refund your money plus give you an additional 10 percent off”.  Meanwhile you have ruined the rep’s day by your uncouth reaction to something they probably had nothing to do with.

Normal human interaction doesn’t work like this. Normal interaction usually involves a bunch of smaller steps with a person. You build trust as you go. But any type of exchange where you are speaking or seeing someone one time should not be license to let loose.

Telemarketers especially get yelled at just by saying hello. “I’m not interested!” “Stop calling here”. Looking at Hindu philosophy they are just doing their duty. Our responsibilities are all essentially the same. We provide food and shelter for ourselves and/or loved ones.

On the customer service side I want to praise the company that rewards the softer spoken customers as much as the rude/loud ones. The issue is that sometimes assertive behavior gets more attention. It turns on a trigger in our minds to react quicker.

All I know is, we all deserve more kindness. If we experienced more empathy on a day-to-day basis we would feel a greater sense of personal peace. If we became more empathetic to our brothers and sisters in the trenches of life with us, it would also be that much sweeter when we are on the receiving end of it.

My plan of action is to increase the number of compliments I give- especially to strangers. Sometimes reinforcing people’s good behavior will keep them from caving when another is bashing them in.  And we never really know how isolated any one person is.  More importantly, people hear what they do wrong so much more frequently than what they are doing right.  How will they ever duplicate the good stuff, if they aren’t even aware how awesome they are?

I often recall my high school English teacher telling us the story of a stranger on a train smiling to someone on the platform. That smile gave the individual on the platform enough hope to keep living.  That smile gave that person enough hope to cancel their plans for suicide.

With near death experiences, like car crashes and heart attacks, the theme is to live your life better and tell those you love, how much you care before it’s too late.

My thought today is to be better customers.  My love letter to you is for us all to be more responsible and equally graceful with our brief interactions with each other as much as we are with our most sacred relationships.  You don’t have to give all your energy away in an over the top manner. But perhaps at least, leave people in a neutral space. Maybe let’s all be a little less annoyed with the person walking a bit slow on the street.  Let’s actually answer our baristas when they ask us how our day is going, and ask them how they are doing in return; instead of just replying with our orders.

And please, please stop yelling at the stranger on the phone.  I’m not a perfect person, but I know I cannot be the only one desiring more peace in my day-to-day life.

I hope you find gratitude even on your worst days. I hope you know that there are so many people who care about you if you are ever blind to this fact. I really want you to remember the bad stuff is temporary! This too shall pass can be such a powerful reminder in the moment we feel that our despair is endless.

I hope you find positive human interaction in your daily life because I cannot be the only one who is looking.


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