Being Personable in an Impersonable World

When someone goes out of their way to be polite to me, I appreciate it. In fact, I relish it. In these days where simple courtesies seem far, few, and between, a little kindness goes a long way. And I see it less and less in customer service. Some jobs are hard enough but waiting on people everyday is probably one of the hardest. I try not to go into a store to shop when I'm in a bad mood because I just get impatient by everything and then when I get in the cashier's line, I don't want to end up being mean and unfeeling.

Being personable doesn't mean weakness. It means good upbringing. It means respect for the other person. And even if I'm not treated the same, I still won't stoop to the level of rudeness. The world is turning but the saying that what goes around comes around still rings true (read Galatians 6:7).

When I started as a business owner in 1999, I was trained to always give 110% to every customer no matter what. Back then, customer service was how I got paid. If I represented myself and my company well, more likely that customer would be with me indefinitely and bring their colleagues as well. So, I always made sure I went over and beyond to please them. And, it wasn't just for a paycheck, but more importantly I want to be treated well as a customer too.

How can customer service improve?

Training is key. People come with different personalities and sometimes they are going through trials and may not act the way they do normally. When you work with people, you will find the touchy-feely folks and you'll also find the 'get right down to business' people too. The technique you use for the personable customer won't always work with the business-type person. I wish companies would really make their employees understand this and properly train them. Also, I hate to say this, but money probably plays a big role too. I'm not sure exactly what the going pay rate is for reps but a lot of them that I know have to work 2 to 3 jobs just to make ends meet. That doesn't bode well when you tired and not getting nearly enough sleep at night.

Even still, in the business of servicing customers, I believe you should always treat that person with respect and kindness even if they don't return the favor. This might sound like Etiquette 101, but it's still important to say.

So, how to be personable to a customer service person?

Show concern. The person who is waiting on me has feelings too. Simple phrases like, "thank you for waiting on me today," or "I appreciate what you do for a living," go a long way. Good, honest kindness does a lot of good and it might be exactly what that cashier or phone representative needed to hear that day. It's part of ministry, reaching out to people with a smile on your face, a bit of conversation asking them how their day is going and really be interested in their answer. I try to remember what they said to me so for example when I see them next time I can ask, "is your daughter feeling better?"

It's just the little things that mean the most. And this doesn't apply to people who serve but for everyone we come in contact with. The ground is ripe full of hurting people and if there was ever a time in the world where we needed love, it is today.

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