You get more with honey than you do with vinegar! This is a saying of a long time friend of mine and she first introduced it to me when I was ranting on at some poor unfortunate wretch for a lack of good customer service.
She then took charge of the situation, smiled, asked him how he was, joked a bit about me and then everything was all sorted out quickly with smiles all round.
It is so true that in any given situation you will achieve much more with amicability than animosity.
I have tried to keep this in mind over the years but it is so difficult when I am constantly having to deal with the intellectually challenged (not the words I wanted to use but apparently we have to be PC even in Bahrain).
Another exponent of this philosophy was an American called Mike the Mouth. He travelled everywhere with his big booming voice and a bag of candy. I was travelling with him to Muscat and when we got to Omani immigration there was a huge queue.
The diplomatic passport lane was empty and so Mike said follow me. He approached the immigration officer with a booming “Hello, how are you today, here have some candy” passports were passed across and stamped with big smiles and a “Hope you have a nice stay”.
I am happy to see that some of the more enlightened companies are embracing this approach now. When call centres were first set up the operatives not only had fixed scripts to follow but also a minimum number of calls to be made an hour. If they failed to reach this number they were out. It was a very ruthless and challenging place to work.
A result of these fixed conversations was often an argument over the phone an unhappy customer and a stressed out operative.
A friend who recently left Bahrain found a job in one such call centre, but in a completely different environment. She is encouraged to engage the customer in conversation and gets Brownie points if she can keep the phone call going for over an hour.
There are no scripts and she is allowed to talk about anything – the weather, the children, holidays, Eastenders etc. This usually results in a sale because who can refuse to buy from a nice person who has chatted with you for ages?
Happy customer, happy operative, happy company.
I should get this saying tattooed on the inside of my eyelids, so that each time I close my eyes in frustration before I unleash the tirade I will see it and force on a smile and a happy face.
The biggest problem we face in Bahrain is that the person facing the customer does not have the authority to resolve the issue, which is where the frustration begins and the inevitable “Go and get the manager”. If companies were to train their customer facers and give them the authority to resolve issues, the world would be a far nicer place.
As a result of my new career as a property developer in the UK which will mean me splitting my time between here and there, I shall now be writing these columns every two weeks instead of weekly.
If you miss me on alternate Saturdays I will still have some musings on my blog Jbeedie.com