Running an online business – actually now businesses – for ten years has taught me at least one thing – always be nice to customer service staff!
Or at least try. Sometimes it’s hard when you’re ‘not pleased’, I accept that.
I’m particularly prone to losing my temper, so when a supplier utterly messes something up, my natural response is rage, or at least bitter sarcasm.
Having been on the other end, though, I now work hard to be pleasant when I NEED HELP, if not always when providing it.
It’s the obvious strategy, it’s better for my stress levels, it helps avoid pointless arguments, and it might even generate good karma.
So worth a try. And I can tell you from personal experience of doing support for, for instance, the ebooks store, that polite, friendly, apologetic-for-wasting-my-time people get my attention, and timely help with their problem (it usually is THEIR problem…)
Whereas rude people, especially rude people who use the formula “Do this or give me my money back!”, just wind me up, so inducing me to be uncooperative.
Doing ‘support’ has the potential to put me in a bad mood for the whole day, given that one of the morning’s first jobs, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, is to deal with emails that have come in during Europe’s night (evening in the USA, then morning in Australasia). And that replies to my replies will happen hours later, for the same reason, so dragging things out.
Who wants to open their emails every morning and read abuse? Certainly not me.
Unfortunately, someone has to, and given the state of the world (design faults with Apple products, and their users), I’m the obvious candidate, and the cheapest.
Here’s a question for you – on average, in your life experience, just how good is customer service, usually?
Personally, I know some great organisations (actually, just one, the British bank First Direct) but most of my experiences as a customer have been on the negative side, or at best, just about good enough.
And you know why companies and public sector bodies are generally bad at offering support?
It isn’t necessarily because they don’t care, or even that they can’t be bothered. After all, if offering friendly and effective support were easy and cheap, everyone would probably do it.
More likely the reason is because the necessary resources are not allocated, so staff are poorly–trained and/or disempowered.
Or worse, that there are no real people involved, just ‘help’ articles, AI bots, and confusing telephone answering systems that waste your time then cut you off at the critical moment, making you want to spit!
Some organisations don’t offer any way to contact them at all, so forcing users to go online and leave one-star reviews at places like Trustpilot.com.
Check out what people think, for instance, about Europe’s largest budget airline, Ryanair. Actually, I recently left them a five-star review (no, really), because they were really nice to my wife. And I’m not the only one, it seems. Credit were credit is, occasionally, due.
The world is a complicated place, and seems to get more complicated each day, doesn’t it?
It would be a nicer complicated place, though, if we could all manage to be pleasant when asking for and providing help.
I frequently can’t, but do try. Unless provoked. And then people write back, outraged, and say they’ll report me to my boss. And I reply, “Hah!”
You know what? Instead of answering all emails personally, I could just stop. Disconnect my email accounts, use a ‘no reply’ address for sending, so basically become uncontactable.
Italian companies used to insist you send your complaint in a registered letter, meaning wasting an hour in a queue at the post office and spending five dollars. I could go for something similar – write details of your problem on parchment and have your owl fly it to me at the address on the website, between the hours of 09.30 and 11.00 CET, not Tuesdays.
Should I keep interacting with people? A small minority of whom can be unpleasant. Or automate everything?
The middle way is to keep doing support, but cut out any personal aspect of it (so eliminating any need to get annoyed) by using standard replies, fixed phrases, and links to help articles – go solve your own problem!
Or maybe I should just remind myself more often, and more forcibly, to be NICE!
Anyway, enough lamenting the state of modern manners. You’ll find today’s FREE article in our thirty-part Summer Series here:
Never heard of Caporetto? Neither had I, which is embarassing as I majored in modern history.
It was Italy’s worst ever military defeat, apparently – I resist making snide comments along the lines of ‘well it must have been really terrible!’
(The first ten episodes in this series can be found on our History page. Scroll right down to the end to find them.)
P.S. Don’t miss the half-price eBook of the Week!
Don’t forget this week’s ‘Half-price eBook of the Week’ offer, Vita in trincea, which is on the same theme as the most recent Summer Series articles.
The level is B1/B2 (intermediate/upper-intermediate) and the ebook comes in .pdf format (the default download), with .epub & .mobi formats available on request at no extra charge.
Tra il 1915 e il 1917, durante la Prima Guerra Mondiale, l’esercito italiano e quello austriaco si scontrano nella zona montana delle Alpi Carniche, vicino al fiume Isonzo. I militari italiani, reclutati in tutta Italia, vengono mandati al fronte.
“La terra delle montagne, qui, ha un odore strano, una puzza terribile a dire la verità. Non è come a casa” dice Rino a suo fratello Felice a bassa voce, mentre il rumore di molti stivali come i loro marca il ritmo della marcia. “Ancora pochi minuti e arriviamo alla trincea, accelerate il passo!” comanda un ufficiale che cammina poco avanti a loro.
Gli stivali sono scomodi, con il fondo di cartone e i chiodi sulla suola sottile. I piedi dei soldati sanguinano dopo le lunghe ore di cammino al freddo sulle Alpi. L’odore, intanto, è sempre più forte. “Questa puzza viene sicuramente dalla trincea” pensa Rino di nuovo. Felice gli stringe un braccio e dice: “Non ce la faccio più, lo giuro. Devo fermarmi un poco” mentre va avanti a fatica. Rino lo incoraggia: “E dai, che stiamo arrivando, resisti!”
- .pdf e-book (+ audio available free online)
- .mobi (Kindle-compatible) and .epub (other ebook readers) available on request at no extra charge – just add a note to the order form or email us
- 8 chapters to read and listen to
- Comprehension questions to check your understanding
- Italian/English glossary of ‘difficult’ terms for the level
- Suitable for students at intermediate level or above
- Download your Free Sample Chapter (.pdf)
Remember, this week Vita in trincea is 50% discounted, so just £4.99 rather than the usual ‘easy reader’ ebook price of £9.99!
How do I access my ebook?
When your order is ‘completed’ (normally immediately after your payment), a download link will be automatically emailed to you. It’s valid for 7 days and 3 download attempts so please save a copy of the .pdf ebook in a safe place. Other versions of the ebook, where available, cannot be downloaded but will be emailed to people who request them. There’s a space to do that on the order form – where it says Additional information, Order notes (optional). If you forget, or if you have problems downloading the .pdf, don’t worry! Email us at the address on the website and we’ll help. Also, why not check out our FAQ?
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