Good customer service starts with the customer

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

We can’t help the fact that we feel a little entitled as consumers.

For those non-physical interactions, such as an online helpdesk or a call center, the dehumanization is only made worse by the fact that you can’t see the person helping you. Studies show that seeing someone’s face helps you empathize with them, so when you’re receiving a Zendesk email or call, it’s harder to stomach bad news about your request for a return label.

Even as we wait in line for our $2 burger made from pure grease and goodness-knows-what, we still believe that the person counting our change has less dignity than ourselves.

Contrary to popular belief, however, good customer service isn’t just giving the customer everything they want. It’s not catering to their every wish and handing over cash like it’s a hold-up. It’s not even being obnoxiously polite and returning flirtatious advances with glee. Good customer service is about the perception of fairness, and too often service employees are treated unfairly by customers and by their own employees. Those employees are being set up for failure by the very nature of their position, either due to a uniform, a physical barrier, or virtual communication — and those are just from customer biases.

The people creating company policies are rarely the ones actually enforcing them.

Treating customer service workers poorly comes from both ends — both from the customers and the employers. Employees who feel jaded and abandoned by their company are a flight risk, and the subsequent revolving door can get expensive and exhausting. Because C-suite is rarely exposed to customer experience, they are usually unable to properly grasp how draining and frustrating the day-to-day can be for their employees. The lack of communication begets unreasonable or difficult-to-enforce policies, and the cycle continues.

The way employees treat customers can be a reflection on how they feel they’re treated by their company.

When it comes to preventing turnover, employers and customers must protect the service workers first. Employers should practice empathy and implement new policies regarding how customer service employees behave on the job. Increasing face time with customers (even just allowing employees to include profile photos of themselves on their helpdesk emails), losing the jumpsuit-like uniforms, and listening to employee feedback are just a few small steps they can take to ensuring their employees feel comfortable on the job.

LA reject with a passion for prose and an obsession with compassion. I’m radically transparent about my personal experiences in health and wellness.

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