I called my insurance provider with a simple question. The agent sighed audibly and spoke in a condescending manner. His instructions weren’t clear and he was impatient with me as I asked questions for clarification. I’m unwilling to let people treat me like that, especially when there are alternatives available for their products and services. I ended the call out of frustration and called back. The next person I spoke with treated me with respect in customer service. They showed empathy for me.
Look, I understand that some end-users, coworkers, and other types of customers can make you crazy. Sometimes, you start to feel like everyone you deal with is clueless. That may even be true some of the time. When you start to feel that way, take a moment and pause. Try to remember the times when you felt confused, frustrated, and maybe even angry because of something you just didn’t understand. Maybe it was something your doctor tried to explain. Perhaps it was a problem with your car. Maybe it was an issue with your kids that went sideways. Regardless, we’ve all had times where we needed someone to be patient with us.
Respect in Customer Service is a Choice
Patience in customer service is a behavior choice. When you feel yourself getting frustrated with a caller who seems clueless, pause, take a breath, and think of the times when you appreciated someone being patient with you. When you feel yourself getting frustrated and feeling impatient with a coworker, do the same thing. Pause, take a breath, and remember when a boss or coworker was patient with you while you struggled with new technology or a change in policy.
You can learn how to show respect in customer service by using empathy to imagine how you would feel if you were in the other person’s position. Think about how you would want a customer service technician to treat a valued family member or a close personal friend.
Be aware of times when you start to feel impatient with other people, be aware of the triggers that can set you off. Then, be intentional about making the behavior choice to treat them with patience, empathy, and understanding as you work to resolve their issue.
Remember, respect comes in two forms. One form of respect is how you feel about another person based on what they’ve said and done, their words and actions. The other form of respect is how you choose to behave with other people. It’s not necessary for you to feel respect for another person to treat that person with dignity and respect. It’s a matter of holding yourself to a higher standard, regardless of the bad behavior around you.
You gain nothing by sighing and acting in a condescending manner other than poor evaluations, extra work for your colleagues, and bad feelings all the way around. By acting with patience and understanding, you’ll see better evaluations, less work for your team, and you’ll feel better at the end of the day.
In other words, don’t act like the insurance company rep!
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