Attitude In Customer Service Is Everything

by Randy Murray on December 21, 2010

OK, I’m taking a deep breath and taking another try at this. My first draft was a thousand word screed about the lousy service experience I just had, but I think this carries my point better.

Here it is in a nutshell: I recently went through a two and a half week trial to get my oven door repaired. The technician who finally fixed it was excellent. The manufacturer stepped up to pay for the repair, even though the oven was just outside of the warranty period. But dealing with the local repair company on the phone made my blood boil.

This is a company that claims that their entire reason for being is service. They don’t sell anything. They just repair appliances. They were one of the two authorized service companies in the area and I picked them because they were the closest. They charged me $75 for the initial call, just to confirm exactly what I told them in the first place. And every time I dealt with them on the phone I got the distinct impression that they felt that they were doing me a favor just by talking with me. Whoever I talked with sounded put out when I called and they expressed no responsibility for the time it was taking for them to get the replacement part or schedule someone for service. Both times they did schedule someone for service they gave me a four-hour window.  Both times the technician showed up at the very end of the window.

The final technician did good work. The manufacturer stood by their product. So what’s the problem?

They completely lacked empathy. They could have run the exact same scenario with just a change of attitude and I would have sung their praises. If only they’d expressed any degree of responsibility and concern I would have felt much better in that long period my oven was out of service. But their lack of even the most basic customer service and care made the experience of having a broken appliance much worse.

I’ve posted my review of them on Facebook and on CitySearch. I blame myself for not checking there first. They had very mixed reviews. But I didn’t check and relied on the manufacturer’s recommendation. I’m writing the manufacturer about them, too.

If you are a service organization or have to deal with customers, there’s something here for you to learn: a customer with a problem is an opportunity. Empathize with them. Take responsibility. Do your best to resolve the issue. If you do that, you’ll tie the customer closer to you than others who never have a problem.

But if your attitude and dealings with your customers show that you find it a distraction to deal with them, if you don’t actively show them that you care and understand their anger, you will not only eventually lose this customer, but you’ll create someone, like me, who goes out of their way to spread the word about how unhappy they are.

You’ve created a powerful enemy, Appliance Man. I have a blog and I’m not afraid to use it.

Service is an opportunity. Don’t frak it up.

The Attitude In Customer Service Is Everything by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Northern Wolf December 21, 2010 at 8:14 am

This is true on another level too. The subtle clues you give away in your interactions are as important as the words you use, the telesales adage that the customer can hear you smiling is true.

It’s something we all need to learn, we influence other people with our mood and attitude, and when people feel that we are being respectful and considerate they are much more willing to exercise patience and understanding.


Randy Murray December 21, 2010 at 8:31 am

Absolutely true. The difference between this having been a very bad experience and the good experience it might have been would have taken very little effort from the vendor.

There’s a price to be paid for bad attitude in service. And in this connected age it might just be the difference between success and failure.


Ann Janzen December 29, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Bad attitudes are insidiously destroying most customer service units in America. With so many people unemployed, one would think that they would attend to the needs of their clientele. There are many others waiting in the wings to “be nice” to the customers that they treat so shabbily. It is so frustrating that poor customer service appears to be the norm rather than the exception. What ever happened to the old idiom “the customer is always right”???? Granted there are many cranky customers around but we wouldn’t be sooo disgruntled if the darn customer service people treated us with concern.


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