There are articles everywhere about how to offer excellent customer service; the customer is always right; customers need to feel listened to, valued and validated. Those are all valid thoughts…but what you don’t see often is an article on how to be a good customer. Most people don’t work in customer service, but we are ALL customers. Don’t you think it’s worth some time to learn how to be a pleasant one?  After spending my entire working career providing customer service in some way, shape or form, I offer you this list for your consideration, as we embark on the busiest shopping days of the year:

1. If there is a line, don’t try to push yourself to the front of it. Similarly, clearing your throat, complaining to fellow line dwellers and other “tisking” sounds make the line waiting even more unpleasant for everyone. The person at the cashier’s stand KNOWS her line is long, and she is working hard to work through it as fast as possible, while doing a good job. Do you want her to give you her full attention once she gets to you? Be patient, and wait for it.

2. Have your credit card and ID ready when you get to the front of the line. It makes life go more quickly for everyone…no one likes to watch the person in front of them scrounging through their purse for these details, when you had the ENTIRE TIME IN LINE to prepare for the actual transaction.

3. If you are emailing customer service, talk to them as if you were talking face to face. Don’t write mean emails, impressing yourself with your use of the biggest, most offensive words your command of the English language can muster. There is nothing like receiving a TRULY AWFUL and MEAN email from a customer, then calling them on the phone to discuss their issue. It’s amazing how quickly they backpedal from being a mean bulldog of a customer, to being reasonable (usually). Remember: Most customer service people are there to help you.

4. If you have a legitimate concern with the product or service, don’t take it out on the customer service rep. Personal attacks and swearing are never okay. They make you sound mean and irrational…and if you are mean, the rep is much less likely to go to bat for you with their company.

5. The old adage, “sugar goes down better than salt” applies to dealing with customer service agents, as well. Be kind, polite and friendly as you present your needs to the rep. Chances are, your smiling face is one of the first they’ve seen all day. Being kind will not only make the interaction more pleasant, but it will create a comraderie between you and the rep that may work in your favor.

6. Stop demanding things for free. Seriously. Free isn’t free. It’s costing someone money, and ultimately will result in prices being raised for everyone. If there is a legitimate error, then that’s one thing…but demanding another set of free ANYTHING just because your shipment came a day later than expected is unreasonable.

7. Don’t use your negative emotions to manipulate the situation. It’s OK to express your frustration and displeasure verbally in a polite way…but expressing it in a way that is like a parent scolding a child is really quite hostile. Choose to have a kind and respectful demeanor.

8. If you aren’t satisfied with a product or service, contact the company BEFORE you rant on social media. Give them ample time to reply. Chance are, if you are having a problem, there are others who are calling them, too….which means it takes time to get back to you. Similarly, be careful what you say on social media. You might have been dissatisfied with something, but negative reviews stay forever. Do you really want to do that to someone’s livelihood? How would you feel if someone did that to you, based on your job performance during the toughest time of the year?

9. Order earlier than you think you need to, and don’t expect every company to deliver your goods as fast as Amazon does. Some products are hand made, or require specific materials that can run out during busy seasons…be patient, and place your order early, so if it takes longer than you expected, you aren’t irritated.

10. If a customer service rep is rude or unpleasant, ask to speak to the manager. They need to know if someone is not doing their job well, so they can make corrections accordingly. If the manager isn’t available, get their email address, so you can let them know later. Do the same thing, if you receive excellent service…bosses need all of the encouragement they can find, and the best kind comes from happy customers like you.

All this can be summed up in…be nice…do unto others as you would have them do unto you…and have yourself a merry little Christmas shopping season.

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