People amaze me sometimes, and I don’t mean in a good way. If you want my money, just be nice. It’s really that easy.
A couple of days ago I stopped by the local shopping mall to pick up an item and because it was getting close to dinner time, I decided to grab a bite from the food court.
There’s a burger joint with some great fries but their patties are a bit slim so I ordered a triple bacon cheeseburger. Admittedly, a triple is not something on the menu but I have had them several times before and it was never a problem.
But this time is was.
This was the exchange I had when I was next in line:
Blank stare. Not a word was spoken. A look of extreme impatience.
“Hello. I’d like a triple bacon cheeseburger with just lettuce and mayo. And an order of small fries please.”
“We don’t have those.”
“Oh, you’re out of fries?” I seriously thought that’s what he meant. It was really busy in the mall and it was late in the day.
“No SIR. We don’t have TRIPLES.” His emphasis was immediately condescending and forceful. Obviously I was still annoying him.
“Oh, but I’ve gotten them here several times before. Can you just add an extra patty and charge me accordingly?”
“Nope. That must have been a special we were running or something. We don’t have have those. I’ll just put in a double and that will work.”
“Uh no. That won’t work. Sorry. I’ll just go somewhere else. Have a good night.”
Was I Was Being Unreasonable?
Now, I do understand that this is something not listed on their menu, but I also know that their register has a button for “extra patty”. How? Because the last time I went there, the manager was showed a trainee that button when I ordered!
I’m also very sensitive to customer service skills because I’ve been employed by companies that demanded them…Busch Entertainment, Ritz Carlton, Amazon.com and others.
Customer service is the very foundation of building a solid and lasting business. I don’t expect the kid from the burger place to have the best customer skills (or to even care about what might likely be a job he hates), but I’ve sometimes seen this same attitude from digital business owners and it’s something that’s so simple to do and can mean the difference between success and failure.
Here are 8 Ways Being Nice Will Make You More Money
Listen and Be Empathetic
The first rule of good customer service (and being nice) is to listen. No matter how upset or unreasonable a customer is being, if you’re in the business of selling anything, you need to hear and understand what your customers are telling you.
Many times people who are already worked up about something already know logically there’s nothing you can do, but emotionally they just want to feel like they’ve been heard and that you can identify with their concerns.
Make a Quality Product
A quality product or service from the start is the best way to be nice. Providing something that is lacking will only create more problems down the road. I’ve experienced this personally in the past by putting out an ebook I knew wasn’t as complete as it could be and the result were readers that weren’t satisfied and time spent fixing the problem instead of avoiding it altogether.
Not so incidentally, this is one of the driving forces behind our WordPress plugins at FooPlugins. We’ve delayed product launches more than once in order to fix bugs that would only affect about 5% of our users. We’re not in the business of providing products that only works for some people.
Solve a Problem (or bend the rules)
Easy enough to say, sometimes harder to do. But nothing worthwhile is ever easy is it? All this guy had to do was ask another worker or just listen to the fact that others had added another patty previously and put in some effort to finding the solution.
Perhaps he could have even charged me for a different item and threw on an additional patty in it’s place.
I would have gladly accepted honesty. From the start, he was short and terse. If you’re providing a product or service and you just can’t find an acceptable solution…tell your customer.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but if you communicate openly and honestly about any specific issue you might be having, it allows your customer to understand what’s going on and the hurdles you’re facing.
As an example, we once had an issue with our product license keys not validating properly for our customers. During the time when we were troubleshooting, we sent out tweets, Facebook updates, blog posts, and an email campaign to let our customers know there was an issue and that it was being worked on.
We had several customers take the time to reply thanking us for being transparent with the issue.
Don’t Be a Knowledge Hoarder
I love the online community I work in, and specifically, the Open Source software and WordPress communities. The guiding principle of open source is to share code freely in order for others to build upon it. It’s made the web a much better place.
Sharing your knowledge builds trust and helps others succeed. It’s about Karma. It’s about making the world a better, more understanding place to be. What could be better than that?
Have you ever submitted a support ticket for a product or service you’ve already paid for and had to wait days for a response? Did you feel like you were important?
Fast response times for your customers is one of the holy grails of good business. Yes, it’s sometimes hard to solve an issue in a matter of minutes or hours, but even a quick reply to let your customer know you’ve heard them (and that they matter) can be the difference between a downward spiral of dissatisfaction and an understanding that sometimes things go wrong and patience while things get fixed.
Bend Over Backward
Break out of the restriction of arbitrary rules. If you’ve ever gotten in a 10 Items or Less line with 12 items, you’ve got the right idea.
I’m not suggesting you be rude to others of course. I’m just saying that rules are only guidelines, they are steadfast restrictions.
There is always a point at which you just have to walk away, but in-between a customer request and the absolute end point, there are always opportunities to think outside the box and come up with something to solve an issue. Sure, it may take a bit more time but the payoff of a loyal and satisfied customer is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Never Give In to this Urge
Evil begets evil…
One of my favorite lines in the Fifth Element film.
In other words, resist the urge to react to negativity with negativity. In still other words…don’t be a smart ass to people who are assuming the worst about your product or service. It’s really tough sometimes, but it never works.