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Friday, July 18, 2014

Being A Better Customer

As the lead doctor and a manager in my practice I have to deal with a lot of odd or cranky clients.  Over the years I've had this blog I've talked about many of them.  I also am a fan of the website Not Always Right ( because of the plethora of stories about strange, unruly, and unreasonable customers.  It's kind of therapeutic for me to read about other people's encounters with the bad customers and clients, as I see similar situations almost daily.  As in any profession we often have to handle clients who are impatient, make unreasonable demands, have a short temper, seem determined to blame us for their negligence, or simply have an inability to understand very simple things.
Over the years I've gotten better at handling these situations.  They don't bother me and sometimes I'm downright amused rather than upset by the client.  I've learned a lot of ways to talk to people, help them understand, and overall calm them down.
But one of the best things about being a manager and working with the public is that it has made me a better customer and consumer.  When I talk to my team about excellent client service I make people give examples from their own lives of experiences where they were blown away by service and ones where they were so poorly treated that they would never go back again.  I have my own stories, especially of stellar service.  While I use this to teach my staff how to treat our clients, it also helps me understand how to be a consumer myself.
I try to smile at cashiers and acknowledge their greeting.  I try not to be upset at someone who merely works at a the desk or answer the phone, realizing that they were not involved in a mistake that was made.  When there is a problem I try to be patient and see how it is handled and rectified rather than jumping straight into yelling.  I try to remember that everyone is human and makes mistakes, so it's more important to see what happens after the mistake rather than being upset just at the mistake.  I try to give businesses time to look into a problem and try to fix it.  When someone gives me exceptional service I always try to remember to thank them, and then find a manager to acknowledge that service.  When I go to a doctor's office I bring a book or something to work on as I know that delays can happen and are often beyond the doctor's control.
I'm not perfect and I get as frustrated as the next person.  The difference is that I and my staff have been on the receiving end of bad clients many times, and I don't want to be that kind of client.  I try to remember how those situations made me feel and why I thought the client was unreasonable, and then avoid acting the same way.  I'm in a service industry and have sympathy for others who deal with customers, especially the cranky ones. 
I just wish everyone could learn the same lessons.