The two key things that make a successful long-term relationship and help in customer service.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) a concept first coined by Daniel Goleman, can be learnt and improved.
In a recent review of the TUF Online Training program the writer was pleased that I did not advocate zero tolerance: not letting customers swear or show any kind of aggression. Organisations with a zero tolerance policy towards customers tell people not to swear. If the customer persists in swearing they terminate the call or stop serving them and ask them to leave the premises.
The biggest challenge in dealing with difficult situations is to first of all manage your own emotional reactions to them. It is easy to see the other person as difficult and to blame them for your uncomfortable feelings. Acknowledging and accepting your own feelings to yourself is an important first step to making a positive response to someone who you find challenging.
The supplement in last weekend’s Dom Post in Wellington (Saturday 26 January 2013) had a feature about the terrible customers that turn up in hospitality settings and the often equally nasty things some workers do to get back at them. It was a story full of horror and negativity.
People who work in customer service, especially in hospitality can get jaded. Customers can be very difficult especially if they are affected by alcohol in bars and restaurants or highly anxious such as when travelling.
Last week I was given a book to read called “The No Asshole Rule:
I have just returned from Christchurch where I presented a free seminar for businesses and organisations on dealing with angry people in post earthquake Christchurch.
Participants from many sectors recognised the same stresses in their staff and customers.
A little snippet in the paper yesterday said Russell Crow had been excluded from a pub somewhere in England because he caused too much trouble. Russell caused difficulties once before when he threw a phone at the concierge in a New York hotel. At the time he said this is how we settle things where I come from (NZ). He has to have been misquoted, surely!
What can you do when people like Russell Crow nut-off and get upset. Sometimes there's not a lot you can do but hold your own dignity. It is worth acknowledging that you see they are upset. It can be helpful to apologise that they have been put out, or the service hasn't met their expectation. This is not accepting blame for what has happened. It is letting them know they are not alone with their feelings and distress.
The saga with JetStar, the new budget airline operating in New Zealand continues. Over the weekend a number of passengers were turned away from the check-in counter because they arrived less the 30 minutes before take-off. Some who were shut out said they arrived earlier but the queues were too slow.
JetStar want to set their rules very clearly. They want people to know that this 30 minute cut-off time is absolute. This is their right and it’s probably a good way to run a budget airline.