One of my clients has a monthly pulse they use to share good service stories with the business. This is a brilliant way to reinforce what ‘good’ looks like in service interactions and is a sure way of positively shifting the dial in a service culture.

I have seen customers behave poorly, and I have been guilty of this from time to time; however, when I read this next story, I was shocked. It reminded me that customers have bad days too.

This story is an extract from their in-house newsletter.

Vanessa had to reinforce her service values when dealing with a customer. On a particularly quiet afternoon, with only one of two registers operating, a customer approached the counter and stood directly in front of the REGISTER CLOSED sign, placed her item (an ice cream) on the counter, and simply pointed at it as an indication that she was ready to purchase.

When Vanessa explained that the particular register was closed, but she would be able to assist at register 2, the customer took the opportunity to swear and throw her ice cream towards Vanessa. At this point, she had to choose between responding in kind, refusing to serve the customer, or to ‘kill her with kindness.

To her credit, Vanessa decided to show the utmost customer service to someone who was clearly having a bad day, by completing the purchase with an extra kind and understanding attitude.

She showed Respect for a customer without knowing what she may have been going through, took Ownership and showed absolute Courage in a difficult and potentially unsettling experience. She remained Positive and did her best to Simplify the experience to enable the transaction to be completed as quickly as possible for the customer.

A safe and secure workplace for all team members is non-negotiable for us in our organisation but Vanessa showed that a little heart, especially in what can often be a stressful environment for a customer, can go a long way.

All we have, when we face difficult customers is how well we respond and the meaning we attribute to that moment. In the story above, we could choose to throw the ice cream back at the customer, or as Vanessa did, take a breath, keep calm and rise above that poor behavior and ‘kill them with kindness’.

That customer was so impacted by Vanessa’s reaction to the situation that she returned half an hour later and apologised for her behaviour.

We never know what others are going through. We don’t need to be martyrs and put up with customers behaving badly; however, when we make assumptions, we keep people at a distance.

Looking at ways we can be of service transforms the way we approach our work and our relationships and this helps humanity in a multitude of ways.

Jaquie Scammell
‘Love Being in Service’

Sign up to receive weekly service insights, and more.

Sign up to receive weekly service insights, and more.