I’m pretty even tempered. Those that know me have rarely if ever seen me lose it but every once in a while it happens and it isn’t pretty. As you might begin to infer it happened today. I had a problem with a vendor that infuriated me so much that I just couldn’t let it lie. That’s not the story. The story is how it was handled on the other side.
Granted no one is really prepared to be yelled at but maybe they should be. There is an opportunity to make something good out of a bad situation by having the proper reaction to an irate or upset customer. In this case I called (actually I had him call me) with the specific agenda of blowing off some steam on this guy for a mistake that was detrimental to my business. Not only were they wrong but they were also wrong in how they had handled it up until this point. When confronted on the phone in this case you have a few options but it basically boils down to two
Cop an attitude, be belligerent back to the customer and show that you’re the better yeller.
Use this as a situation to provide excellent customer service. That can usually be accomplished by saying two simple words: I’m Sorry.
In my case today the idiot chose A. Instead of trying to mollify me by using those two simple words he chose to elevate the argument. His poor judgment also allowed him to make it personal. Good for him, he won. Not really. Any one that picks up a phone is a representative of your company. If they choose to handle problems in this manner it means that you choose to handle problems in this manner. Small issues can become catastrophic over simple poor phone skills. The only thing this guy should have said was: “I’m sorry” maybe even adding ” What can I do to make this better” but I guess he should walk before he crawls. Instead his boss, the owner, got a more measured but just as angry email from me, now outlining my issue with the company and this bookkeeper.
Crisis management is something to be taught before it becomes a crisis not something to be handled when it’s already happened. As I paraphrased in my email to the boss:
Treat me well and maybe I’ll tell someone, treat me badly and be sure I’ll tell everybody.
It’s a good saying to remember. Every employee is you. How they handle themselves is how you handle yourself. Make sure they know how you want things done on both an everyday basis or in a crisis situation. The better you have prepared them the better prepared they will be to handle anything that might happen and believe me things happen.