I (Frankie) know all about customer service. I've been a waitress, worked in retail, I am an office manager who answers the phone and schedules appointments, and the co-owner of my own business. I'm always and forever dealing with customers/clients and I know the golden rule; the customer is always right. But, that's not quite true is it?
One of the hardest things about my job is being nice to people who feel that it's okay to be mean to me. I know where their head is. They know that I'm serving them and if I'm rude, no matter if they were rude first, I could, at the very least lose a customer/client or, at the very worst, lose my job. So does that make it okay for them to be rude to me? Absolutely not, but unfortunately, lots of people think it does make it okay.
I get it. Sometimes things happen and we get frustrated. It happens to me all the time. But, nine times out of ten whatever happened to frustrate us or make us flat out angry, has nothing to do with the person taking care of customer service. These people usually aren't who we have the problem with at all, but because they are there and we know they can't say anything back to us, it makes them an easy target. That's not okay.
The next time you get mad or frustrated with a business, just remember where the problem originates from. It's almost never because of the person who you're dealing with at that particular moment. Just because you're angry or frustrated doesn't mean it's "right" for you to be rude.
Whether you work from home or in a brick and mortar business, no matter what side of the counter you're on or which end of the phone line you're on, we're all customers at some point and we're not always right. Be nice.
So….that’s my laptop in the photo above. Let me tell you about last Friday.
It was a decent day. My son had half a day of school. I didn’t have too much work on my plate. I had gotten a lot of writing done at the laundromat earlier. All was well.
I’m sitting at my desk looking over the menu of a restaurant my son and I were going to try. My husband was helping out family so he wasn’t going to be around for dinner. That’s typically when my son and I will try something new.
I picked up my laptop and was walking into the living room with it, like I have done a million times before. My elbow caught part of a door and it happened. Like some slow-motion part of a movie.
It was maybe two seconds in reality, but as I watched it, it was around twenty. The laptop, falling...falling...falling…
It hits the floor.
The screen shatters. Well, yes and no. It shatters in only the way an LCD laptop screen can shatter.
And I yell the only word that comes to my mind: SHIT.
All the positivity for the day, all the happiness for the joy of the weekend, all the excitement of spending a fun evening with my son crashed at that moment.
Form upstairs my son heard me and asked if I was all right. I paused. And said No. Well, yes. I’m all right physically.
I just wanted to cry. I wanted to stomp my feet. Shake my fist in the air. Yell to the world that this was BS and I didn’t deserve it. Eat an ice cream sundae. Go to bed.
But what good is that going to do? Crying isn’t going to make everything better.
Throwing a tantrum and sobbing just means I’ve wasted time when I could have been solving my problem. Maybe it would have felt good for a second, throwing a little pity party. But in the end, my screen would still be shattered and I’d still have a problem.
So - I told myself the one thing that I had to tell myself: Suck it up, Andrea.
Crude? Sure. Harsh? Maybe. Honest? Definitely.
No one but me and my actions were going to fix the laptop problem. And so, I sucked it up. I swallowed the pity party, and moved into problem-solving mode. And two hours later, my son and I had a nice road trip with subs, a potential fix, and fresh from the conveyor belt Krispy Kreme donuts in our bellies. (Not a bad resolution!)
Sometimes you just have to keep going. Keep moving. You’re going to stumble. You’re going to fall. You’re going to drop your laptop and shatter the screen. You can be angry, but don’t stop moving. Don’t stop solving the problems. And it might take a couple of tries. The first fix didn’t work. So I came up with a second one, and that one worked. (And now I know how to repair laptop screens - so please, ask me if it ever happens to you!)
And don’t forget to give yourself a Krispy Kreme as a reward, too.
For me, that question is very easy to answer. I'm never happier than when I'm surrounded by the ones that I love. It's the most amazing feeling in the world to me and I wouldn't trade it for anything. When I'm with my family, nothing else matters. I am at peace.
I also find happiness in my work. I know that sometimes I complain, but I have to admit that I have a pretty amazing work life. I get to work from home with a phenomenal group of counselors at Eddins Counseling Group, and I am co-owner of this kick booty company called Coffee Talk Consulting. I never dreamed that I would be co-owner of anything so this is pretty great for me.
I just want you to understand how very important it is to be happy in all aspects of your life. Enjoy your family and friends. You'll argue, sure, but you'll get over it. Love what you do for a career. Money is important, but it's much more important to be happy with what you do. And always remember while you're pursuing happiness, to take time to just be happy.
I spent a lot of years looking for something to make me happy without ever stopping to actually be happy. I've learned to slow down and just enjoy the happiness that has found me. It took me awhile to get here, but I'm here now and I hope you'll join me.
Leave us a comment and let us know where you've found your happiness.
Before you go to the dentist, do you brush your teeth first? Before you get a manicure, do you trim your nails? Before you get your physical do you frantically work out in the hopes of dropping a few pounds?
Yes, you do. I do. We all do.
I was thinking about this a few weeks ago as I was getting ready for a manicure appointment. I hadn’t had one in years, and I was treating myself because it was my anniversary. As I was getting ready, I pulled out a nail file to shape my cracked, snaggly nails so that they would look okay for the manicurist.
And then I realized how stupid I was being. Why am I trying to make my nails look better? Isn’t that the whole point of paying for a manicure?
We do this a lot, with so many things in our lives, and it’s really the wrong thing to do. When I gain a new client for my VA business, I don’t want them telling me how great they are and how great everything is going. That’s not why they’re hiring me. I can’t help them if I don’t know know all the ugly. I can’t change things if I don’t know what the “pain points” are for my client.
Why are we all looking for help, and then pretending we don’t need it?
The best way to succeed is by identifying all the problems that are happening. If you have a client or customer, you need to know what their problems are and then you can solve them.
What's Mule Day you ask? Here is an excerpt directly from the Mule Day Website:
Mule Day is an annual celebration of all things related to mules and is held in Columbia, Tennessee, the “Mule Capital” of the world. Begun in 1840 as “Breeder’s Day”, a meeting for mule breeders, it now attracts over 200,000 people and takes place over seven days. In addition to mules, traditional Appalachian food, music, dancing, and crafts are featured.
Did you see that? Over 200,000 people! What? I (Frankie) had no idea about this when I moved to Columbia, TN in 2010. Columbia isn't a huge town and 200,000 is a whole lot of people. I get road rage on a regular Tuesday around here because I feel like there's too much traffic for such a small town. Can you imagine how I am when over 200,000 new people roll into town for seven days? It isn't pretty.
For a long time I just held my tongue about Mule Day. It's kind of an old tradition, 1840, and I thought maybe it brought some revenue to the town. I'm not so sure that's the case anymore. Maybe through the week some of our small, locally owned businesses do some extra sales, but I found out this year that on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Mule Day week, most of those close. They have to. They can't get to work to open shop even if they wanted to. Most locals actually leave town that weekend. Some make sure to plan their vacations for the whole week so they don't have to deal with the crazy overcrowding of our town.
It's really not fair to those of us that live here year round. I'm sure the influx of people does help with our revenue on some level, but is it worth it? There are a ton of us that walk at our local park every day. The county made a walking trail just for us and we love it. Mule Day is held at the park. There are signs that designate where to park trailers and tell them not to have mules or horses on the walking trail. I went to walk the Thursday of Mule Day this year and I couldn't. Not only could I not find a parking spot, trailers were parked all across our trails and of course the whole walking trail was littered with crap…literally. It was awful. I missed four days walking because of it, and I know I'm not the only one.
You may think I'm just being a crybaby here, but I'm really not. I do have a point. Sometimes we think what we're doing for our work from home or brick and mortar business is a good thing. Maybe we keep doing things the way we've always done it because that's what has worked in the past. Maybe we start doing some new fangled crap because we think we need to get with the times and try some new ideas. All I'm saying is whatever you do; make sure it's actually good for your business and your clients. Adapt and evolve, but don't alienate. You can't make everyone happy all the time, but you can sure give it a try.
And don't bring in 200,000 new clients and expect your old clients to be happy.
Do you think holding onto traditions is a good or bad thing? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Frankie and Andrea take turns sharing stories. Just good talk over a cup of coffee.