Attitude is Everything

There's a blog from the City of Baltimore inspections department, Ask Inspector O.

I'm enjoying reading the feed (although it's a bit unpredictable when they will post.)

One of today's postings highlights something I've run into a lot lately:

The issue at hand: the 311 operator gave the resident incorrect information, but was adamant that he/she was correct.

I've seen that at my local McDonald's (no, it's not $.30 for extra ice in the cup of coke, it's 94 degrees out, and I won't drink it that fast, put in some extra damn ice) and Target (no, it is NOT required you keep the tags on clothes when you have receipts and want to return them.) this week.

In all three cases the person providing customer service (I feel like putting service in quotes) did not actually KNOW the policy. They were wrong. They invented something on the spot to support their own actions, then presented it as organizational policy.

In all three cases the CSR presented themselves as knowing they were right and were belligerent (ok, my two were belligerent, I don't know if the other was) about that fact.

Customer service is not just about putting someone behind a desk. Customer service is also about picking people who have an aptitude for service, who care about making the customer happy. Why do you hire someone to work at your customer service counter who dislikes customers? Why do you hire a cash register clerk who won't learn how to operate it? Why do you hire a 311 person who misinforms people to avoid typing? In all three cases the organization is large enough to use this person in another capacity (fry cook, stocker, file clerk) rather than put them in contact with your customers.

In all three cases the customer walks away with the impression that not only does the organization not care about that customer, but that the organization doesn't care about ANY customer.

You can say, "oh these people need better training." Yes, they do; they need to know the actual policies. However, if someone is going to make up policies to suit themselves, do you actually want that person in your customer service program? You can't possibly train them to know every nuance of every situation. Customer service is a way of thinking and reacting. Can you train someone to react with caring?

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