Four Strategies for Responding to Poor Customer Service

Perhaps you’ve noticed: customer service has deteriorated noticeably since the recession began. Fewer waiters in restaurants. Slower room service in hotels. Longer wait times for support.

A Waitress Taking an Order

This is hardly surprising. With significant layoffs in almost every industry, fewer people are available to provide the level of service you have come to expect. Everyone is scrambling. Many are stumbling.

What can you do about it? More than you think. But it begins by adjusting your attitude. This is what distinguishes leaders from non-leaders. They have the ability to lead themselves.

Therefore, here four strategies for responding to poor customer service:

  1. Be more understanding. The people who are trying to serve me are no doubt overworked and underpaid. They are doing the best they can. They didn’t wake up this morning plotting how to disappoint me. They are not stupid or incompetent. Indeed, most of them are frustrated that they don’t have more resources to meet their customers’ needs.
  2. Express gratitude. It’s easy to focus on all the stuff I am not getting that I think I am entitled to. Instead, I am going to work hard to thank people for all the little stuff they do for me. If I can set aside my expectations, it’s amazing how much more I will notice and acknowledge. A simple, heart-felt “thank you” can re-energize a person who is discouraged and ready to quit.
  3. Demonstrate patience. Is my need really so urgent or am I really that important that I need it now? Probably not. I can use these delays and annoyances to polish my own character and better learn the virtue of patience. This comes down to a simple matter of treating others the way I would want to be treated in a similar situation.
  4. Extend grace. Someone has said that mercy is not giving people what they deserve while grace is giving people what they don’t deserve. For example, that over-worked waiter didn’t give me the service that I might have received two years ago. But now he’s covering 50% more tables. And people are tipping less. I’m going to give him the full 20%. Why? Because I want to be a gracious and bless him.

None of this means you have to rollover or accept poor service as the new norm. But you are more likely to get good service if you have a good attitude rather than a bad one. And even if you don’t get better service, you can at least feel better about yourself and what you are becoming.

Question: How are you handling poor customer service?

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