Dealing with clients, no matter how annoying, is a reason why we have jobs

When the call comes, it may not be convenient. When the call comes, it rarely comes with all the required information.

When the call comes, you may not know all the answers or think you have the time to answer it.

It sounds like a preacher on the mount talking about the call from God – but I am talking about when your clients
make a call to you.

You should feel privileged to be the “chosen one” to service their needs.

There is competition out there yet clients are still sometimes treated as an inconvenience. You know you are going
to receive poor service when you see one of those lovely old signs behind the counter that proudly states: “I love this job – except for the damn customers!”

I really question if people are in the correct job sometimes when I hear a story about a staff member treating a client with complete and utter contempt. They don’t feel privileged to be called – they feel like the client is a major inconvenience. I heard such a story last week.

A friend of mine is the CEO of a public organisation and he was recently on a country car trip with the chairman of
the board. They are both BlackBerry fans and had their BlackBerry devices sitting together in the console while they travelled.

As is the case in country areas, reception comes in and out as you travel.

The frustrating and intriguing result of this travel was that as they came back into reception areas, the newer BlackBerry (owned by the chairman) started receiving messages but the slightly older one (they were both the same model just bought at different times) didn’t receive any messages. Many of the messages were sent to both of them so they should both have started receiving messages.

My friend is not a technical wizard so he didn’t realise that the fi rst rule of every technician is to turn off the device and turn it back on and see what happens – so he took the layman approach of ringing the tech support of his supplier.

The technician who he spoke to listened briefl y to the problem of not receiving messages and, despite the fact that my friend was talking to tech support on the phone in question, he summed up the situation brilliantly and said that the phone was obviously out of reception and therefore of course it wouldn’t receive messages.

My friend was at least technical enough to point out that there were two devices beside each other and one was receiving messages fi ne and the other one wasn’t so reception didn’t seem to be the issue. Then came the clanger.

The moment of utter contempt had arrived. The point when this particular support staff member had decided that this one-minute support
call had gone on long enough and it was time for him to get off the phone and go back to uploading Facebook photos or taking care of his
caffeine addiction.

“Aha,” said the technician. “You didn’t tell me there were two Blackberrys of the same model beside each other.” Now the problem was clear to him. “As everyone knows, when this occurs, only one device will receive messages.” Problem solved! “Make sure that next time you travel in separate cars and have a nice day,” concluded the technician.

This was literally too much for my friend. Again, he was no technowizard but he was certainly clever enough to see that this sounded like utter rubbish. The retailer was treating him with complete contempt!

My friend started asking how people received messages as they drove on a busy freeway and passed each other. What about in a shopping mall or in a train station? How about a sporting stadium or concert? The examples of people in close proximity to each other are endless. More importantly, how did the messages decide which BlackBerry was the lucky one? Are messages only delivered to the “most important” one?

Obviously someone in the “BlackBerry Close Proximity Single Message” department had designed an algorithm that determined that the
chairman was more important than the CEO so preference would be given to the chairman’s BlackBerry.

After a full round of appropriately sarcastic comments and still with the swirl of disbelief in the air, my friend cut the conversation short and when my friend found an organisation interested in servicing him, a simple fi rmware upgrade resolved the issue. And it was lucky the problem
was resolved – otherwise I can imagine that my friend would have turned into a real loner at parties.

He would be the one standing in the corner by himself with a “BlackBerry Exclusion Zone” around him, ensuring that no-one else with a BlackBerry was close to him lest he started to miss some important messages.

So in these tough economic times, take the time to remind your staff why we are all here.

We are only here but for the client, although sometimes we make the mistake of treating clients as an interruption rather than as the sole reason we exist.

Clients are quick to sniff out this lack of interest or ambivalence in your staff and will quickly fi nd someone who is interested in servicing them.

Just make sure that ambivalent attitudes drive clients to your business – not away from your business.

Tell me some of your favourite contemptuous service moments at

Scroll to Top