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The Psychology of Customer Service Part 1

As you can tell, we write about loads of experiences, whether personal or business.

We all have strengths and my strength is getting to know people.. drawing out their personalities and getting to know them by simply asking questions about the one subject most people like to talk about most - themselves.

 Now I preface this entire article by defending its title and say this.  I have no formal training as a psychologist, sociologist, psychotherapist or any other -ist for that manner.  I simply observe people.

 I think most people like to be treated with honor and respect.  That's hard, because all people do not honor and respect others and invariably it becomes a challenge to therefore honor and respect them.

 Here’s a life experience.

During a Thanksgiving break, my wife, daughter and I went to spend time with family in Waco, Texas.  We drove back on a Sunday.  On our drive back to Lubbock, we stopped to grab a burger and pit stop in a small town of about 4,000 in population.  We had about an hour left to travel. 

 Now, bear in mind Lubbock has three Universities and two Community Colleges within a 50 mile radius and I think this burger joint we stopped at was packed with college students from every campus, trying to get back to school.  They were everywhere and it was about 8:30 in the evening.

 As I stood in one of three very long lines for my snack, I watched this young lady behind the counter.  She looked exhausted and unhappy.  I bet she had been there all day and was ready to go home, but all of a sudden the whole town was bomb-barded with travelers and the manager probably asked her to stay because they were short-handed.  I spent several years in the food industry I and just imagined this was how her day was playing out.

 She was taking orders from indecisive and impatient patrons and my heart really went out to her - she saw no end in sight.  People were waiting for their orders and it was taking longer than usual.  I watched her take orders with no enthusiasm, just trying to get through this day. 

 Think of it this way, this is a small town.  This young lady, and the rest of the staff for that matter, was used to a few hours a day and somewhat slower business especially on Sunday.  This was Thanksgiving and everyone wants to be home.  And now she is working some major overtime trying to serve these travelers who also want to get home.  I'm thinking about all this while in line.. I've actually experienced this and know what she is going through.

 As I walk up, I smiled and began to visit with her.  The conversation went somewhat like this; "Wow you are really busy tonight?"  "Yeah", she said and continued, "What can I get for you?"  "Well for starters I want you just to take your time, and give me a big smile"!  And I gave her a silly grin, and then it happened - she smiled and all of a sudden her whole demeanor changed.

 She took my order and as I gave her my money I whispered, "I know you've had a long day, but really your day is almost over and you'll be home soon, but all these people in here - it maybe hours before they get home"!  Her smiled widened.

 As I stood there waiting for my food, it came quickly and I noticed the impatient and rude customers that came before me were still waiting.

 Again to reiterate, I am not a specialist in any field of human behavior but I treated someone with kindness and respect and the results are irrefutable and my experience was positive, thought provoking and life changing.  Did I get preferential treatment because I treated her kindly?  Also, is the outcome always the same?  Not necessarily, but it is the right way to treat people.  If you expect confrontation you will get it - if you expect the best in the situation well put it this way, you get what you expect.

 You see if your attitude is such that you expect the worst in the situation or people and the outcome is actually good, the response is, "well that's a first!" 

 But if your attitude is such that you expect the best in the situation or people and maybe the best does not happen, well because your attitude is in the right place, your outcome will always be better and possibly more consistent.

 Again not from book learnin, just 30 years serving people.  I am sure someone will read this and explain the years of social studies or mores and human behavior is called such and such or this and that.  Just observing people, whatever it is called in academia, just watching people.

 Here is my take on customer service, in this scenario.  I believe how you treat people as a customer will hold over as a service provider of customers.  Call it what you will, but your demeanor and attitude will follow you.  As a customer or a provider you reap what you sow.

 Here is the bottom line - if you want to improve your level of customer service, be a better customer.

 This is why I say treat others with respect, as a provider or a customer yourself.  It will pay dividends; you must do all you can to ensure that the dividends it pays are positive.


So much of our customer service training is to treat others better than you would like to be treated. 


So here is my challenge to you; the next time you are the customer, treat that service provider the best you can.  Be patient, understanding and appreciative.  And then watch the customer fairy send you great customers.

 Hey, call it what you will, but what goes around WILL come around. 


 Treating people right, well, it's just the right thing to do.


 Next we will discuss in more detail the expectation of the customer and how to temper that expectation with good service… stay tuned...


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