Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Customer Service

I have a pet peeve with many people who work in customer service type jobs. That is that when presented with a customer who complains, they often put the complaining customer ahead of other customers who dont complain. It is the whole "squeeky wheel getting the grease" sort of thing. I have this to say though. Doing that is NOT good customer service. Good customer service might be to not have a line in the first place or it might mean doing what one can to make the line move faster but it is not good customer service to put the complainer ahead of all of one's other, more patient, customers.

For one thing, just because customers are quiet, it doesnt mean that they are happy and putting the whiners and complainers ahead isnt exactly fair to them. I know I get pissed off when I believe that someone is getting better treatment because they are complaining. For another thing, it is, in my opinion, bad for society to reward people for acting like demanding entitled jackasses. I mean, don’t we have enough of that behavior without encouraging more of it?

I know I am not the only one to feel this way and my latest experiences with this sort of "Customer Service" have reminded me of a classic joke that I have always sort of liked.

An award should go to the Airline gate agent in Denver for being smart and funny, and making her point, when confronted with a passenger who probably deserved to fly as cargo.

A crowded flight was cancelled due to a mechanical problem. As would have it, the airline left a single customer service agent with the monumental task of rebooking a long line of inconvenienced travelers. Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way past everyone else in line to the front of the counter. He slapped his ticket down on the counter and said: "I HAVE TO BE ON THIS FLIGHT AND IT HAS TO BE FIRST CLASS!!" The agent replied, "I'm sorry sir. I'll be happy to help you but I've got to help these folks first, then I'm sure we'll be able to work something out." The passenger was unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that the other passengers behind him could hear, "Do you have any idea who I am...??" Without hesitating, the gate agent smiled and grabbed her public address microphone and made the following announcement: "May I have your attention please..." she began, her voice echoing throughout the terminal. "We have a passenger here at the gate WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to Gate 17."

With the folks behind him in line laughing hysterically, the man glared at the United agent, gritted his teeth and swore. "(Expletive) YOU..!!!" Without flinching, she smiled and said, "I'm sorry, sir, but you'll have to stand in line for that too."

The man retreated as the people in the terminal applauded loudly. Although the flight was cancelled and people were late, they were no longer angry at the airline.


Anonymous said...

My daugter is 3 and i'm daily trying to train her to speak to me in a civil manner or I will not do what she asks.
Now that you have brought this to my attention it seems even more important. It does infuriate me that I have had to turn into a b*tch at some establishments to get any kind of customer service... it was like I was antagonized to the point of acting like a 3 year old to get my way.
how embarassing for THEM and ME.

Anonymous said...

my dad has always told me "a kind word turns away wrath".
i try to live by that but sometimes it's so hard, especially when dealing with the bank.
great post!

portuguesa nova said...

That is a great story!! I wish I could be so quick with assholes like that.