Mean People Suck – How to be a Valuable Customer

Mean People Suck

By Doug Sandler, “Nice Guys Finish First”

Why they feel like they have the right to not only ruin their day but to ruin someone else’s day is beyond me. And for what reason? Often times I think mean people look for a reason to be mean, spread their poison, and to infect others. You can find them almost everywhere you go, disrespecting their server for less than 5-star service, even at a local diner. They are the customer in front of you at Starbucks complaining about getting their Soy Chai Latte with not enough cinnamon on top (First World problems). You might even run into them at the airport, yelling at the gate attendant because a lightning strike has delayed their flight, apparently thinking the airline employee has a direct line to the heavens. We’ve stood next to, queued up behind and even sat with mean people. They are embarrassing, unempathetic and unsympathetic. They have no filter and they absolutely have no couth.

You may be in the camp of, “I pay for it, so I have the right to complain about it.” If you reside in that camp, I do not disagree about your need for better service, but I disagree with your methods of trying to get it. There is a way to get what you want when the expected size 10 service fits into size 3 shoes. Being mean, obnoxious or disrespectful should not be in your bag of tricks. Leave them in your interrogator’s toolbox.

How do you handle great, mediocre or poor service and what value do you provide back to the provider of said service regardless of their grade?

There is a difference between communicating and mind-reading. People across the buying table from you cannot possibly read your mind. Simple transactions like putting gas in your car require very little effort; you swipe your card and you expect gas to come out of the pump. But more complex transactions require you open your mouth and ask questions. Better yet, discuss your expectations. While service providers should know generally what your expectations are, they cannot read your mind. Before you pop a cork, vent your steam into a constructive conversation. The company you are working with wants you to be happy. Give them a chance to fix the problem and exceed your expectations in round 2.

Share positive experiences with the company, but also share your remarks with the world. It’s important to catch people in the act of doing something right; when you do, share your positive story with the company that provided the great service. A handwritten note, email or phone call will do the trick quite nicely. Social media makes it so easy to complain about poor service, but the same can be said about great service. Share your positive comments on social as well.

Be quick to praise a company directly for a job well done. Don’t be quite as quick to start blasting off the negative press in a public forum if service is less than perfect. While the squeaky wheel does get the oil, the squeak doesn’t have to be formed with thick rust. Allow moderate or poor service to be corrected. A company that has a track record of great service can still have a bad day or a poor experience. Watch how they handle the mistake, you might be pleasantly surprised with the results, given the chance.

Help resolve problems by being solution focused, not “you owe me” focused. Nothing is perfect and we all need help to resolve problems. Take a moment and look at what went wrong and what you might be able to do to help resolve a problem when poor service or a poorly made product finds you. When you are dissatisfied, be open to discussing the issues you face with the company that let you down. When you work hand in hand to help resolve your problem, you are potentially also resolving the problem for future customers as well.

Know the difference between cost and value, cheap and inexpensive. We live in a world where you get what you pay for. Before spending your hard earned cash, caveat emptor (let the buyer beware), understand what you are buying, in both dollars and value. If you are buying hamburger meat, don’t expect a filet to be served.

We live in a service world, sometimes service is the only thing that differentiates one company from another. Your money speaks, if unhappy and dissatisfied take your cash somewhere else, no need to be mean about it. But as you leave, provide your feedback in a constructive, useful way. As you would expect from another human being, be empathetic and nice and leave it to the poor service provider the choice of how they handle your remarks. I can guarantee if they keep up the failing grades and poor service, they will un-WOW themselves out of business.

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