By Jeff Walker
While companies have a vested interest in serving their clients well, it can also be said that a good consumer knows that treating the person on the other end of the phone, even in a difficult situation, with respect and dignity will go a lot further than treating them with suspicion and hostility.
Shortly after I got out of the military, I joined a company that sold and supported radio transmitters and automation systems. As the radio automation systems were computer based, and computers were right up my alley, I became part of the customer service center for the company, answering phone calls and performing on-site installations. We (the new trainees) received a month of training on the product we were to support before we finally got to sit down at a desk and handle phone calls. I was excited! After a month of going over and over this new system, I would finally be able to get my hands dirty and help our customers with their problems. I loved helping people.
On our first day on the phones, I sat down at my desk, collected my thoughts and was ready to field my first call of the day. Unfortunately, this first call was something with which no one could have prepared me. The phone rings, I answer politely with my name and the company’s name and the first words I hear through the receiver are “You Mother*****r!”. This customer was so upset with our product that he hurled a personal insult at me before ever telling me what the problem was!
Thankfully, that was the worst call I ever handled, but it illustrates a point. If you are the customer calling in with a problem, how likely do you think the person on the other end will be inclined to handle your problem with that kind of communication? Had it not been my first day and having an honest desire to help the client, I would tell you NONE! There’s an old saying out there that I firmly believe, you can attract more flies with honey than vinegar. In other words, a carefully worded explanation to your problem, without pointing the finger, will go a lot further than an insult laden tirade that puts the person at the other end of the phone on the defensive.
Being a good customer is every bit as important as being a good company. A reputable company will take the time to work with you to improve your experience, despite a service that hasn’t always gone as planned. Shortly after I moved into the home in which I now reside, I contracted a company to replace the heating and air conditioning. As the temperatures that year were well above normal, I asked my salesman that we complete the air conditioning the first day of a two day job. At the end of day one, as my family and I sat baking in the 90 degree sweltering heat, it was clear that this hadn’t been done. I, feeling justified in doing so, called up the salesman and spent the next 70 seconds giving him a piece of my mind. In the end, it got me nowhere. I still had to spend an uncomfortable night in the heat with my family, and the job didn’t get finished any sooner than it would have, had I come back later with a suggestion on how they might improve their service. In addition, this company will no longer work with me again. So in cutting off my nose to spite my face, I learned a valuable lesson that day. I got absolutely no further in solving my problem through anger, than I would have had I been nice. In fact, I might still have a working relationship with that company today, had I been a little better about how I treated their employees.
So why should I care how one company feels about me after I give them the business? There are plenty of other companies out there, right? Well, in a sense, that’s true, but people in any industry talk, and when they do, inevitably talk about customers will come up. Specifically, talk about the customers they remember. As with most human beings, they are likely to remember the extremes. That nice old lady who baked them cookies while they unloaded her items, and “so-and-so” who gave them the business after they put in a hard day’s work trying to make his move go as well as possible.
All-in-all, the same principles that companies use for good customer service, can also go into making you a good customer. Communicating your needs to your sales representative will help make your move go more smoothly. Asking questions allows them to give you answers that make sense, and build trust with that company. Following up with a request by your salesman lets them know that you’re serious about making your move as pleasant as you both would like.
Setting realistic expectations in any transaction is critical. We see some pretty unrealistic expectations on the forum all the time. That move you were planning to go across country for $1200? Not going to happen. At least, not unless you would like a group of thugs to hold your items until you agree to triple the original price! One lady even ripped her moving company for having the audacity to ask for payment prior to unloading, despite the fact that the law requires payment in full prior to the crew unloading the truck. Through a course of questions and answers with your mover, and looking over the FMCSA’s “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” will help you familiarize yourself with the regulations in the moving industry and better understand what to expect during the course of your move.
Being a good customer requires being an informed and courteous consumer. Getting to know what to expect and treating your crew with respect will go a lot further than hostile posturing and angry rants. Listening to your sales representative can help your move go smoothly and a willingness to work with your company when things go wrong will help decrease the stress you put on yourself during the course of your move. Lastly, the more information you have about your moving company the better off you are. For more information on becoming an informed consumer, read our article on “How to Find a Reputable Moving Company”.
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