A friend and I found ourselves in an analytical discussion regarding the behavior of people seeking customer service help (really the nature of people in general these days) and how difficult it makes it to work with them and render the assistance needed.
We have come to the conclusion that we live in a place and time full of self-serving, entitled people with little to no concept of accountability while possessing the fine tuned skills to make any and every issue the fault of anyone but themselves. Think about it for half a second and I can guarantee you'll come up with at least a dozen real-life examples of this without breaking a sweat.
Here's the thing, there's a reason we have such adages like not biting the hand that feeds you, catching more bees with honey than vinegar and treating others the way you would want to be treated. Sound vaguely familiar? Hopefully they nudge your common sense, too.
We all get angry and frustrated when things fall apart or don't go the way we expect, but when we all get angry and frustrated without any checks and balances then we leak on everyone around us and pretty soon we're in the emotional equivalent of The Happening and left trying to muck through mayhem. Keep it in check, people, you'll get so much further. The concept herein applies to pretty much every interaction that can occur between people, but I'm going to try to focus on just one of those today.
It almost seems like the norm: you just can't get good customer service any more. In a lot of cases I believe that to be completely true. I think good customer service is a dying art when it should be fostered and improved. I also truly believe that there is great customer service out there that is dying because people think they need to be entitled, demanding jerks to get any help, thereby crushing the soul of representatives trying to do the best job they can. And it works! Admit it, any time someone is enough of a jerk about something they get exactly what they want, whether it is deserved or not. And so we learn the only way to get anywhere with customer service is to berate them into submission.
Here comes the secret: Chances are the kinder, more patient and understanding you are with someone who is trying to help you, the more you will gain as a result. You wouldn't want to give someone extra consideration when they treat you poorly so why expect the same of anyone else? Yes, it is the job of a customer service representative to take care of the customer, however, it is much easier to take care of a customer who isn't raging, belittling and generally making said representative put the most minimal amount of effort into satisfying your belligerence just enough to get you off the phone.
While you may think you know that customer service means nothing more than push button menu options, automated assistance that isn't assistance at all and underpaid desk monkeys who don't know their head from their back end, at the end of the day you know nothing about the things that can be impacting someone's ability to do their best to help you. Computers can be unreliable, messages can get lost, emails disappear into cyberspace and the person answering your phone call could be part of a team of a hundred people who have had the opportunity to drop a ball somewhere that is completely out of their hands. That says nothing about that fact that unless you work for a company how can you know the reasons behind their policies and procedures which dictate the way they operate?
There are people out there who want to do more than cash a paycheck, they may genuinely want to do a great job and provide you with excellent service. It would be SO much easier for them to do it if you didn't treat them horribly yet demand their gracious attention to your needs in return.
It is my hope that the next time you get too little sleep, have a rough day, are distracted by personal life concerns, experience a computer error, loose a document, make an honest mistake, encounter a policy change or are learning something new and so might not have a perfect grasp of your task that you remember we are all human and to extend the graceful courtesy to others that you would hope would be extended to you. Challenge yourself to remember that people you encounter, in any capacity, can be coming from any of a million different places that you know nothing about.