October 6


Fun With Customer Service

By Celeste DeCamps

October 6, 2020

acknowledge, civility, consideration, courtesy, customerservice, smile

I have an iPhone, which is different from a uPhone. This phone is supposed to be all about me. I say, "Siri, call Eric," and my phone will call my husband. Which is terrific, except that when I say "Siri," the response is not "What can I help you with?" the answer I get is, "Hmm?''

What is that? "Hmm." Somehow, I'm bothering my phone with a request. I'm not expecting a greeting of "How are you today, Celeste? You look lovely. How can I help you?" That would be nice, though. What I don't appreciate is, "Hmm?" I even told Siri that I'm not too fond of that response, but apparently, it's not going to change.

I'm reminded of the importance of customer service. When we're willing to part with our hard-earned money at an establishment, it would be delightful to be treated well. If I have a question or a concern, I want someone to help me. I don't want to be ignored or dismissed unceremoniously. I don't particularly like standing at a hostess stand or a receptionist's desk and feel invisible. I understand that you're on the phone, but after a few minutes of being in front of you, it only takes a second to acknowledge my presence. Look up and smile at me. I will smile back and know that you see me. It doesn't take a lot of effort, but the gesture goes a long way.

I've conducted staff trainings at various restaurants. I've explained that a place could have the perfect wine list, food menu, and decor, but if the service was terrible, that's all people will remember. If the server is personable and cares that the guests have a great time, the reviews will always be favorable. Everyone likes to feel special, and it's a wonderful experience when that happens.

I know dealing with the public is not easy. I've worked as a waitress and bartender. I've had customers come in looking for a fight. My philosophy was to "kill them with kindness." Of course, in my head, I actually want to hurt them. These people are doing their best to be rude and obnoxious. I recognize that they're not having a good day and want to take it out on someone. I've learned to keep smiling, stay upbeat, and tell them a horrible bar joke. Sometimes it worked, and they ended up enjoying themselves. Othertimes, if their behavior got out of hand, they were asked to leave. Consideration and respect is a two-way street.

By far, the worst customer service is calling a company because you have an issue with their product or billing system. We either end up in a holding pattern or trying in vain to reach an actual person. I understand that many questions can be answered online or choosing the correct number on a menu. The worst part is realizing you missed your window and have to start the process all over again. People like talking to other people and have the satisfaction of having their problems solved. I'll go out of my way to give a service rep an outstanding score when they get on the phone with me.

The time and energy spent trying to get a friendly voice on the line can lead to a lot of frustration. Many businesses would have more positive feedback if they took more time investing in their consumer assistance department.

I'll admit I've had some great conversations with the little chat box that pops up on most websites. I've found them, for the most part, to be professional and efficient. I still prefer talking to someone, but it beats the hell out of staying on-hold for twenty minutes.

Being courteous and pleasant should be the norm when we're working with each other. Everyone has a bad day, but we should do our best to be civil anyway. I try to be nice to Siri, but I must've hit the wrong button. It doesn't look like our relationship can be saved. Siri will not receive a glowing report from me anytime soon. 

About the author

Celeste DeCamps has a B.A. in Communications from the University of Miami. She worked in radio and television, was a professional belly dancer, drummer, percussionist, nightclub owner, and a sales rep for Southern Wine and Spirits for 12 years. Throughout her different career moves, speaking to and teaching women how to be more confident is Celeste's most fulfilling job.

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