How often have you encountered a surly sales clerk or a sour server? Unfortunately, most of us find ourselves on the receiving end of poor customer service more frequently than we’d like. Some people just seem to show up for work in a bad mood. Like your mother used to say, “They act like they got up on the wrong side of the bed.” When the cashier ignores you or the waiter doesn’t have time to be friendly, it shouldn’t be your problem, but it is. How should you, as the customer, react when you run into this kind of behavior? Should you respond in kind, chastise the employee, report the incident to the next level or simply go away and never come back?
Start by treating others as you would like to be treated. That’s not such a novel idea. Everyone knows the Golden Rule, but some people seem to have forgotten it or perhaps they made a conscious decision not to play by it. When you find yourself face-to-face with a grump, take the high road. Start by making eye contact, smiling and speaking in a pleasant manner. The grouchy person might possibly perk up and react positively to your behavior.
If your upbeat attitude does not rub off, resist the urge to counterattack. Going straight for the throat at the first sign of trouble will only make the situation worse and cause you to look bad in the eyes of everyone else. In today’s world, people tend to take matters into their own hands. We see examples of rage and anger all too often, and they never end well.
When you encounter poor customer service or rude behavior, report it to the appropriate person and do so politely. Stay calm. Your concerns will be taken much more seriously if you are cool and collected. If you rail at the manager, your complaint will be discounted. You will look like the problem rather than the employee.
You can choose to avoid the issue by walking out and vowing never to return. With this kind of non-reaction, you do the business a disservice. Since avoidance is the last thing any establishment wants, give the owner or manager a chance to correct the problem. Find a manager and report the issue. The way those in charge react to your problem will let you know if your business is appreciated.
We all want to feel valued, especially when we are parting with our hard-earned dollars. It is never too much to expect to be treated with kindness, courtesy and respect. Those businesses and their employees who don’t make customer service a priority and the responsibility of everyone in the organization will find themselves wondering where all their customers have gone.
Lydia Ramsey is on a mission to stamp out rudeness and enhance professional conduct in the workplace. She is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, sought-after speaker, trainer, author and newspaper columnist. Contact her at 912-598-9812 or visit her at LydiaRamsey.com to leave a comment, ask a question or learn more about her programs and products. The author of Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profits and Lydia Ramsey’s Little Book of Table Manners, Lydia is available to speak at your next conference or meeting.