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We’ll come to you.

We spend so much time talking about how to improve customer service that I thought one post on how to improve customer attitude would be time well spent. If you think about it, we call a customer support line only when we have a problem - rarely if never to proactively say how much we love a product or a service.

Why are we so ready to give feedback when we have a bad experience and yet so harried and thoughtless when we have a great experience? Probably because we’re busy telling all our friends and do not think the company that gave us that experience might care.

Our tolerance threshold has gotten much smaller. However, do we stop and consider that those people at the other end of the phone or side of the counter are working under as stressful if not more stressful circumstances than we operate in?

There are fewer people answering the phone, fewer staff at check out registers, fewer employees carrying the workload of a fully staffed organization. Turning the tables for a moment, have you ever wondered what it means to be a good customer?

Perhaps innovative ways for organizations to show they’re being responsive are:

  • having the CEO answer the phone every now and then
  • getting senior management to pitch in on busy seasons
  • sharing stories of compassion and kindness to inspire the team
  • encouraging staff to become point people for customers (some customer service reps already do this - they provide a direct number and line to their desk for follow up)
  • giving permission or taking the time to reach out to customers proactively and developing those relationships beyond the sales pitch

Does being a good customer mean becoming more tolerant? Perhaps we could be better at:

  • explaining what went wrong from the top
  • feeling compassion and empathy for the person on the receiving end
  • calling the rep’s boss when the service is terrific to give kudos
  • listening without interrupting
  • being more patient

It means talking “with” instead of talking AT on both sides of the conversation.

Yahoo provided me with the first email account. I’ve been using it for almost nine years. The other day I thought I could not log in without providing another email account and a telephone number. It would be unfortunate if Yahoo decided that the only way I can continue to use that account is to be marketed at by the company in addition to the marketing already existing in the email account.

I noticed the move because during all those years I used Yahoo only for the one email account, so there is no relationship with the company. In fact, the only Yahoo people I ever met where the ones who had been laid off after the fact. My compassion and empathy went to them.

It turns out that how to get the most out of any situation is to be more human. Can organizations - and people - relearn the art of conversation?

Valeria Maltoni | Conversation Agent