How to be the best customer

On March 21, 2013, in Decorative Concrete, by admin

We’ve no shortage of “How to do good customer service” articles designed to be applied from the company’s side. But what about customers? We need each other to thrive, and whether you’re in front of the sales desk or behind, we’re all humans. An obvious point worth remembering because just about anyone who’s worked in customer relations have tales of customers who weren’t just dissatisfied, they were abusive jerks. And there’s never, ever a good reason to heap hurt on someone else — such wasteful emotions clog reasonable complaints.

As someone who’s both answered thousands of issues in varying roles (and created documentation to support it) and has bought products from a variety of companies ranging from the monolithic to 1-person operations, here’s what I’ve learned. It’s biased towards smaller companies since it’s easier to enact change with them, but can apply wherever you’ll be listened to.

Don’t bitch about what’s out of an employee or company’s control

Focus on actionables. What can be done.

For instance, if your Internet Service Provider goes offline because someone drove their car into a tree, knocking down power lines and cutting off your connection, it’s uncalled for to ring the ISP up on a cellphone and scream “FIX IT NOW YOU @#$%ING IDIOTS!” They can’t — that’s likely the electric company’s responsibility. All your insults serve is demonstrate is what a jerk you are. Better approach: call and ask for a status update: “What’s going on and when can you expect it to be fixed?” Learn instead of accuse. Simple.


When you’re treated right, be vocally appreciative

Perhaps this should’ve been #1. But I wanted to see if you noticed. Customer service reps endure more abuse than they should have to. Like I said, no one deserves abuse. On the flipside, I’ve hardly ever felt productive, friendly workers get sufficient customer praise to inspire them each day and keep going!

This is why I’m doing my part: every time I believe I’ve been treated exceptionally, I directly send a testimonial. I also often use Twitter and my personal blog to get the word out about awesome products that are made by awesome people. Word-of-mouth is especially important to small companies that can use all the earnest marketing they can get to thrive. Like what I wrote about bug reporting earlier, some savvy companies keep track of “key influencers” and may offer you goodies. These are mutually beneficial: the company’s product adds value to your life, you help support them in ways beyond paying money.

In the service industry, this also applies to eating out. You’re a restaurant’s customer. Received lovely, attentive service? Then generously tip waitstaff who’ve given you consistently excellent treatment. Actions have consequences and you’re frugal, not chintzy.

Customer service is an ecosystem: an honest, friendly worker who gets berated and hears no good words is going to be very confused, and even frustrated about why they even bother to go above and beyond. So pay attention to what makes you smile.

What is a supercustomer?

A supercustomer is not necessarily someone who throws a lot of cash at a company, although that can be part of their makeup. I use “supercustomer” to describe those — the best! — who go beyond the call of customer duty (intriguing way of looking at it, hmm?) and don’t just routinely consume, they actively participate in improving the people & products of the businesses they enjoy.

The Internet has opened up many opportunities, from the trusted reviews of Amazon Vineto the “People-Powered Customer Service” (as redundant as that may seem, we need to be reminded in an era of voice mail and faceless megacorps) of Get Satisfaction.

Old ways of putting a wall between the people who use the products and those who make them are stupid and dying, because in the end, we’re all humans who want to be happy.

So be the best customer you can be!


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