Eye of the Storm: Sales Reps vs. Grumpy Customer

Today was horrible. I was having a personal emergency and trying desperately to balance work deadlines at the same time.

I won’t bore you with the details, but it was one of those everything-is-going-wrong, my-life-is-ruined, the-whole-world-is-against-me kind of days where your head is throbbing and your heart is racing and you just feel like you’re going to implode.

Those days happen to all of us every now and then. And even on those days, we will have to deal with solicitors, advertisers, and sales reps trying to gain our business and talking our ear off as if nothing in the world were more important to us than what they had to say, OR maybe they are taking their sweet time to respond to an email or phone call that seems like it could break your career if not handled in a timely manner.

These are the days where good customer service really matters. And I know that, for sales people, these are the days when it’s the hardest to be polite to a grumpy, hurried person over the phone or email. Sadly, today, I was this horrible person to deal with. I was short wiImageth the sales reps I spoke to, and with the marketers that called me during the very busy day.

Two interactions, though, really stood out to me. The first, with a lady from a bureaucratic institution that I called to help me resolve a personal matter. Though I tried to stay polite and calm in my state of emergency, she was immediately short with me, interrupted me often, and was quite rude. I’m sure I was cursing her in my head as soon as she started talking. My mood spiraled and if it was possible to become a tougher customer than I already was, then I did.

On the other hand, I had an urgent need to learn more about some promotional items for work. I emailed the sales rep I had talked to more than two months prior. He got back to me quickly, answered all my questions, and then followed up with a phone call. He waited by his phone as I continued to call back with more questions. Even though I was under intense pressure, I felt immediately grateful to him. I recognized that he deals with customers all the time that are probably just as picky and difficult as I was. Yet here he was, treating me as if I was his only customer. I was confident that he would handle my needs.

I hadn’t felt that way toward anyone all day.

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For a very brief few minutes, I felt as if everything was going to be OK. I was in the eye of the storm. And that moment of calm allowed me to regain my sanity and take on the rest of the day confidently.

Lesson to marketers (including myself): Because of that moment, I am about 90% morelikely to use that company in the future. And I will likely call that sales rep directly every time.

Today, the difficult, grumpy customer was me. Tomorrow, I could easily be the marketer on the other end of the phone, stuck talking to an unhappy and annoyed potential client. I hope I handle it as well as this guy did.

Have you ever talked to – or been – a disgruntled customer? How did you handle it, and what would you do differently?

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