I’ve worked in the service sector now for over 4 years, and in the retail service sector for over 2 years. My primary job skills are computer diagnosis and repair. I’m a Technician. In the service sector in general you deal with people with problems. They call frustrated and can often take that frustration out on you. This is particularly hard for me to deal with as I tend to take things personally, more so than average people. In the retail sector it is especially difficult because there has usually be some monetary exchange between the customer and the technician and with that exchange there is now an expectation of a minimum level of service to be rendered regardless of abuse. I have consistantly recieved high marks from all my managers regarding my ability to communicate well with customers, deal with the problems, avoid escalation, and keep them coming back. This is not easy, but it does make my job more interesting.
While perusing the blogosphere today I came across an article regarding dealing with abusive customers on the MicroISV blog hosted on wordpress.com. I definitely agree with his response to the original stories’ authors’ response. It is so easy to slip into self-righteousness and pull up the boxing gloves and zinger cannon. But all you’ve gained is a very unhappy customer who will tell everybody about the terrible service they experienced. Even if they’re upset initially, it is quite possible to calm them down, give a few concessions if possible, or just exude a calm and empathetic attitude towards them. I’ve had several cases where the customer did not end up getting what they wanted, but they knew, and communicated this to me, that I was on their side and trying to find some compromise that all parties would find acceptible.
I do draw the line somewhere, like the little old lady who threatened to kill me. She did not recieve any further service from me. Now that’s a story.