Set the Standard

Set the Standard

I knew better, but I did it anyway.

Even though I deal with customer service on a daily basis at my regular job and occasionally interact with users of my online services, I sent a rude email to another company's customer support.

I regretted it the moment I sent it.

My complaint was the result of a bug on the company's website. Not only did they choose to throw a pop-up advertisement at me with a special offer, the link in the offer was broken. So I was presented with every choice but the special offer the pop-up teased.

I was the worst kind of frustrated consumer, because I also falsely believed that as a web developer myself, I would never make such a sloppy mistake.

Karma hit me fast and hard. Minutes later I received a snarky email from a user who had attempted to use one of my free online tools. It seems this user's browser was not rendering the site as expected. Just as I had done, this user took the opportunity to tear me down. I was thankful for the feedback. And I knew that the email I had sent would likely result in the correction of an unknown bug/mistake. But the snark and rudeness I and the user of my service resorted to provided no benefit at all. In fact, it is counterproductive.

Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and demand action. There's a time and place it can justified. From my experience on the receiving end, I know how thankful I am when a customer approaches a situation with understanding and kindness. Those experiences can have an amazing impact on my mood and set a tone for my day and every other interaction I have. Instead of taking advantage of a person's good nature, I am much more likely to go out of my way to be accommodating. I want to reward the customer.

Some people's default is to always approach a situation in a defensive and demanding manner, thinking that is the only way they will ensure they get what they want. They may actually be looking for a confrontation. But it is not usually helpful to meet fire with fire.

Now, it is true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and it is still the goal to have even a rude customer walk away happy. I thanked my user for pointing out the trouble they were experiencing, and I suggested a few solutions. Unfortunately, I received another snarky reply, basically saying it was too little, too late. I chose to leave it at that.

The company I had contacted took the higher road. In addition to thanking me for pointing out the bug, they provided the link I was looking for. I immediately used the link to sign up, thank them and apologize for my previous email. I felt great about it, and they have a new customer.

I should have been polite from the beginning. It would have accomplished the same end result, and nobody would have felt bad about it along the way. It's something I will work on, and I encourage everyone else to do the same.

Shane Cleveland

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