Thursday, October 25th, 2012
Earlier this month, I received the infographic below titled Customer Service from the Service Point of View from its creator with a request to provide feedback, which I did. I rarely appreciate articles that are written from the perspective of employees who feel entitled to deliver less than 100 percent—under the assumption that customers are obligated to make up the difference.
Does a customer owe a tip for “good” service at a full-service restaurant in the United States? Yes. Should a supermarket customer always have to return her shopping cart to a designated cart corral? No. Perhaps she has a crying baby in the backseat or it’s starting to rain. Her only obligation is to pay for her groceries. And we can assume she’s done that. (But some employees would publicly chastise a customer who positioned her cart against a curb, arguing that it’s the customer’s responsibility to return it.)
That said, I recognize there are those regrettable customers who fail to tip, snap their fingers to gain a server’s attention, and leave carts stationed precariously between two vehicles, but I’ve found the percentage to be very small. I’ve also discovered that employees who continually cite these exceptions and find validation in articles or infographics like the one below are the least effective employees. Just as employees tend to mirror the behavior of their managers, so too does customers’ behavior tend to mirror employees’ behavior—for better or worse.
Fortunately, the vast majority of employees take a great deal of pride in their performance at work. They enjoy the camaraderie of coworkers and being recognized for their efforts by supervisors, peers, and customers alike. And if the job is a good fit for them, they’re likely good at it and receive a great deal of personal satisfaction from their work, apart from compensation.
If employees are constantly at odds with coworkers, supervisors or customers, they should find another job. (My advice to these people is to work for themselves. They will learn very quickly that they are not entitled to anything. They will also learn to respect and appreciate their business partners—especially customers.)
The infographic ends with the entitled employee lament, “If you want better service, be a better customer.” That’s like saying to your son or daughter, “If you want better parenting, be a better child.” Service, like love, should be unconditional. Attaching conditions to the quality of your customer service is a slippery slope that will reduce your effectiveness as a service provider in the same way that attaching conditions to the quality of your parenting will limit your effectiveness as a parent.
A better way to phrase the above sentence is this: “If you want better customers, provide better service.”