Be-Happier Tip: the Secret to Serving Others Well


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Whether you are in business for yourself, work for someone else, or run a household, you no doubt come in contact with other people on a regular basis. How you choose to treat them sets up your day to be full of anger, resentments and strife, or to be overflowing with joy and right actions.

That may sound like a simple definition, and perhaps your mind is instantly protesting that it’s the other guy who ruins your day by their bad attitude! True, some people act like jerks. But the way THEY act does not have to “make” you act that way, too.

Let me give you an example. Earlier this week, I decided to cancel a subscription to a news publication. I don’t want it coming to my house and often it sits unread and goes right in the recycle bin — I’d prefer to save the trees used for the paper. I get my news online and on television (and if you’ve read my Amazon bestselling stress management book, “Forget Your Troubles: Enjoy Your Life Today” you’ll know why I suggest limiting your exposure to what is called “news” in our society).

Here’s one of the mistakes the company made – I had recently called them because I could not login to their site with my password. I wanted to verify that I was not being billed for all the extra issues that were arriving daily when I was supposed to be paying for a weekly edition. After a long wait (error in customer service that far too many companies think don’t matter to us, the consumer) during which I had to endure scratchy screechy poor quality background music blasting over the phone (another error), a customer service rep came on the line and after a long session of verifying myself and phone number yet again (another error – I already had to input all that in the phone to supposedly identify myself when I first called), she said she didn’t know why my login hadn’t worked, repeated some old information (email and phone number) on the account that I had changed three years earlier, and then said she’d have the tech people reset my password and email me the new login so I could use the online access as I wished. (Big error on their part – she failed to follow through with that and tech support never sent me an email).

I haven’t even told you yet about the reason I’m writing this post – the huge error that led me to think about what is good “customer service” (whether a paying customer, a potential customer, a coworker, a neighbor, a friend, a family member or a complete stranger!)  Here’s what they did next that was totally WRONG:

I was already alerted that they would not take a cancellation kindly because the final item on their long voice options was “Press 5 if you are thinking of canceling” (said in a scolding manner).

But once I was talking to a live operator, I was really treated to a brand of old-school chiding. I told the young woman that I wished to cancel my subscription and could she please help me with it. I said it very firmly. There was no way she could think I  meant anything other than “please cancel this completely.”  She clearly had a script in front of her of what to say if a customer had the audacity to cancel. Each time I repeated myself, she said things such as “But it’s such a great value!”  and “Instead of the daily paper, we’ll send you the Sunday edition only. It’s such a great value!” — I don’t recall how many times she tried yet another scolding comment refuting my desire to cancel. At least four. Possibly five. Not a pleasant call. I simply kept repeating myself in a calm, steady tone, refusing to get caught up in her drama, “Please cancel this completely. I don’t want it at all.  Will you help me with this?”  She finally, very grudgingly, agreed to cancel the subscription but on a triumphant note told me that I was paid up for the next month and would continue getting the paper daily until the time expired.

I had the sensation that because of me, she was going to be dragged away in irons and whipped because she’d lost a $52 per year subscription

Okay, can you see all the things that this company is doing wrong in their desperate attempt to keep subscribers?

Can you see in this tale anything that you might be doing in your own life when someone asks you for something that you don’t want to do or don’t want to give them?

Here’s the secret to excellent customer service of any variety — always listen to what the other person is saying about their needs, wants, desires. Really listen, and then practice the Golden Rule.  No, not the sarcastic rendition that says: He who has the gold, rules.  But the genuine lesson in these simple words:  Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

to your happiness and success,

Evelyn Brooks

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