How do you feel when you receive bad service from, say a restaurant? The server has a long face who doesn’t seem to enjoy her work. When the food arrives, it doesn’t match what you ordered. Of course, she replaces your order, but now you’re not enjoying your food with your company.  Your dinner rendezvous is now affected, the whole dinner time loses its cheerfulness. When you spend money to acquire a product or service, you expect something in return as part of the barter. What is the best way to handle such situation so it doesn’t ruin your dinner, and it doesn’t make the server’s evening even worse?

I was a complaint queen in my earlier life. I almost always found a way to pinpoint something that was wrong, especially when it came to what I was entitled to.  Years ago, I ordered a suit for my husband while traveling. I was lured into it by an ad that said, “24-hour professional service.”  When we returned the next day, the order didn’t turn out as expected; too short on the sleeves, too tight on the middle part. The reason was because the person whose good at doing it had a family emergency, so the suit was sewn by another person. I was beside myself, we were flying to another city the next day. “When did you know the designated person wasn’t available to do the job? Why did you accept the order if you knew there was a risk of not getting it on time? Why didn’t you inform us of the situation? We would have cancelled it if we knew what the situation was. You took the money but didn’t live up to your promise.” … on, and on, and on … I was ranting. “I had every right to be angry, they violated the terms,” I said to myself. Well, that’s one way of handling it.  The consequences of this way of handling was lingering anger on my part, my day just didn’t flow smoothly afterward.  We went to lunch and our order didn’t pan well.  Isn’t that interesting how bad thing can snowball from one to another?

I have experienced several more incidents as such in the past, and that got me thinking.  It just didn’t feel good to be mad even though it was my right to feel that way. One bad thing after another followed me, and I wasn’t up to building a tribe of angry and frustrated people around me. I had to stop it. “If I know the road I take is bad and needs repair, why would I keep taking the same road?  Isn’t there a smoother road that takes me where I want to go?”  Of course! There are many ways that lead to Rome.  So I started to work on it.

First, I had to work on my own thoughts, and understand them. When I order something, I exchange my money for the service or product being delivered.  There are two parties in this transaction; the one who orders, the one who delivers. It’s actually equal, both parties play a role in making sure that the result of a transaction is a win-win. Often times though, the one who places the order may feel more in power (I did), because he/she is the one with the money, the one that brings a business to the other party. But, the one with the service actually brings a gift, in exchange for that money. You may have all the money in the world, but if nobody wants to exchange with you, what good is your money? By changing my point of view, I am now having more fruitful transactions with others. Second, I start with a sincere intention when I go shopping, eating out, or traveling.  I intend to find something fulfilling, I intend to be surprised by something that tickles my fancy. The intention creates a domino effect that makes transactions a fulfilling activity.  In exchange, the one who sells the product or offers the service feels great to hand over something that makes me happy. I invite you to try it, it’s worth it.

With that experience, repeated over time, I expanded my fulfilling experiences to other areas of my life.  I have since decided not to dwell on what goes wrong. Instead, what goes well and then blow it up. Here’s an example … I go to a networking meeting twice a month, which is held in a restaurant meeting room of a hotel.  Six years ago, at our usual meeting I mentioned to Ashley, our new server, that I love to have warm water with lemon instead of ice water.  That was my first encounter with Ashley, and then I missed three meetings in the next six weeks due to business travel.  The day I returned to the meeting, as I walked through the rotating front door, I saw Ashley behind the bar.  She looked up and gave me a smile.  Anybody that works behind the bar will do the same to any guest that walks by, I assume.  Ashley quickly walked to the back door and about the same time I sat down at the meeting table, Ashley appeared behind me.  She put a fresh cup, a pot of hot water, and a plate of lemon slices by me.  I was touched to realize how she remembered what I like to have.  Before I left, I thanked Ashley one more time and told her how much I appreciated her remembering what I like to drink. I walked out of the meeting feeling joyful.  Ashley made my day!

I made a commitment that day that I would focus on what goes well and expand on it.  I stopped at the front office of the hotel and asked for the F&B Manager’s name. When I returned home that day, I sent an email to the Manager and shared the story about Ashley.  I asked him to promise to read my email in front of Ashley and the restaurant staff, and give her a big round of applause for a job well done. A server like Ashley helps make our breakfast meeting a productive start to our day.

Since then, I have emailed a few gratitude letters like this to deserving individuals or companies who nurture great customer service. I must say, Karma is a boomerang.  And it simply started just by shifting my point of view to what is done well instead of poorly.  As a result, my philosophy expands, and I feel happier.

What customer service experience has made an impact on you? Share your story with us …

#customerservice #pointofview #livingyourinspiredlife #ingemaskun