When I go grocery shopping the cashiers are usually nice and super helpful. The people that bag my groceries are always accommodating, whether that means handing me the bag off the check stand or putting the bags on the back of my wheelchair. If something is too high on the shelves, I’m never met with disdain in asking for help getting it.
At department stores, same deal. I also have no trouble returning things or dealing with exchanges. People are nice. If I need help carrying something out, they find somebody. Same thing at gas stations. If I need help, I get it. Thankfully the station nearby is very attentive and comes out to pump my gas for me when they see my van and disabled parking permit.
Whenever I get my car serviced, I am met with nice, accommodating people. Same thing at the movie theater, the museum, auction houses, and pretty much anywhere I go. Have I had some weird experiences with service, sure. But nothing to get crazy about.
I started to think that maybe I am getting great service because I am in a wheelchair? I’m guessing the people might look at me and feel sympathy or empathy, or even pity in some cases and feel like they should be extra helpful. Maybe this is the case. But what I realized is that I get great customer service even when I am on the phone with someone and they have no idea I have a disability.
So now I think it has more to do with my demeanor and how I treat the people I am dealing with, than just my disability. So here’s how I deal with people when I need customer service:
1. I am grateful and thankful. Words like “Please” and “Thank You” are free. Whether or not you think someone is going out of their way to help you, a gracious “Thank you so much” — sometimes even in advance of their helping you — can go a long way.
2. I am patient. I realize sometimes people are having a bad day. For example, the cashier at Target the other day had a toothache. Haven’t we all been there? It’s bad enough when you’re sitting on your couch with an aching tooth. Here she is standing at a Target all day. She’s allowed to be “not at her best.” So I empathized with her and before I left she actually had laughed.
3. I don’t judge. On a few occasions, a snap judgement about a customer service rep actually changed my attitude as I went into the transaction. To assume someone is going to be unhelpful just because of how they sound or look is a horrible way to get started.
Did I mention I’m thankful? After a transaction, be just as gracious as you were before.
Yes you’ve probably got your customer service horror stories. How many do you actually have, however, that come to mind? 1? 2? 5? 10? If you’ve got only a handful of stories, consider how many interactions you’ve had in your lifetime. It’s likely a small percentage.
If you’ve got more stories than that, are you sure you’re approaching these transactions properly?