I’ve noticed this shift over the past few years from “The customer is always right.” to “The customer is a moron.” Customer service has been downgraded so much that when we get someone who can manage to say hello while looking us in the eye, we are amazed with the “great customer” service we just received. Customers get poor service because workers think customers are rude and customers are rude because they get poor service.
But what happens when this attitude starts creeping into your business? A quick search on Twitter will bring up people complaining that their clients don’t get their vision. Websites like Clients from Hell glorify this mentality, showcasing “idiot” clients and the designers who have to deal with them. How many of these people have you hired? How many of them are talking about you?
It’s time to break the cycle. Here’s how:
1. Don’t talk trash about your client. Even if the client isn’t in the room and has no idea you’re talking about them, saying anything negative about your client is toxic. An offhanded remark like “This client is an idiot” can be overheard internally. Which will poison a coworker’s mind towards the client. Which will in turn poison that coworker’s mind towards their own clients.
2. “But we’re just venting.” There’s a difference between venting and being negative, too often people hide behind the venting façade to justify being negative. Stop finding reasons to complain about your customers and soon enough, there won’t be anything to complain about. If you are frustrated and need to “vent”, go for a walk or look at videos of puppies. You’ll feel better and the toxic atmosphere will disappear.
3. You don’t always know best. You want to be happy, not right. A client knows their business better than you ever will. Your job is to communicate to the world that the client is open and why a customer should choose them over a competitor. Not to argue about why the logo you’ve designed is the best logo they’ve ever seen and they must be crazy not to realize it.
4. Educate, don’t argue. Yes, there are times when the client is wrong and isn’t working in their own best interest. And having to defend every brush stroke and color isn’t going to serve your best interest. Try taking the time to understand why a client is thinking they way they are thinking instead. When you understand why they don’t want a slash through their name, the outcome will be more productive and you can work together to move forward.
5. Work for your client’s best interest, not your ego. You like knowing that you do good work. You like others to know that you do good work. Sometimes, though, a customer doesn’t see it that way and they want it their way, come hell or high water. You can dig your heels in the sand and refuse to give in for the sanctity of your work and your reputation. Or you can give the customer what they want and have a happy customer. If 95% of what your company is churning out is amazing, it’s ok if 5% of isn’t because you’ll have a happy customer. And that’s the reputation that will spread.
A positive attitude starts from within. As a group, we should be showing our clients more respect. You know, that little thing where we treat others as we want to be treated. The next time you start to complain about a customer, think about this: we’re someone stupid to that cashier at Target.
How does that make you feel?