Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you are in business. Yes, and that is also true if you are a housewife, architect or engineer. ~ Dale Carnegie
I have been dealing with people for a long time. It started probably fifty years ago, when I was born. There were nurses, parents, siblings and strangers with whom I had to deal, and I cried a lot, from what I’ve been told. I’ve learned to engineer my approach in my personal life a little better since those early days, though my tears still betray me at times. Consider how you treat people when you are the customer, as well as when you are serving others. People have to learn how to deal with other people. I love people, yet I agree that dealing with people can be a big problem to face. I have been writing in a journal for many years as a way to get my thoughts out of my head without endangering people. Writing is therapeutic for me. Knowing that other people will read my thoughts, though, has changed some of how I write. I don’t want to embarrass my family, and I don’t want to anger people who might think that they are the subject. It’s much like when we speak to people–when our thoughts leave our lips we take on a new responsibility. You might call it customer service. No matter what you are doing or who you are, you have customers; you are dealing with people. A waiter needs diners, a mechanic needs cars, a teacher needs students, a banker needs people with money, a minister needs parishioners, and the list goes on. I take pictures and I write. I need people to photograph and people who read. I want the people with whom I deal to be happy with me. That might not always happen. I need to know, though, that I’ve done my best to meet their expectations. If you don’t know what someone expects from you, it’s pretty hard to deliver, and if your expectations as a customer aren’t clear, chances are you’ll never really be happy.
When I walk into a restaurant, my expectation is that I’ll be greeted pleasantly, seated promptly, and served politely. I expect that my food will arrive quickly and be cooked correctly. I expect that my server will be attentive–if my glass is empty, it will be filled. Eating in a restaurant is not an inexpensive venture. I expect that if I am paying hard-earned money for a meal, it will be a pleasant experience. Those are my expectations, and I think they are pretty fair.
When I call a business, I expect to be greeted by a human or at least an easy to understand message. My expectation is that I can quickly reach a person who can help me. I expect whoever is on the other end of the phone to want to help me and speak to me politely. Those are my expectations, and I think they are pretty fair.
When I stay in a hotel, my expectation is that the room will be clean and safe. I expect to feel like I’m in a home away from home. Those are my expectations, and I think they are very fair.
My expectations have led to some disappointments lately. I have thought of many ways to address the subject of poor customer service in hopes of getting an “Amen” and propelling people to make changes in their own practices and to demand change from those they visit in business. Dealing with people can be messy, and in order to create positive change, we have to offer positive words. You can tell people all day what they are doing wrong and just end up with beaten down folks. I don’t respond well to being criticized like that, but I sure do get excited when someone offers me some positive suggestions. It’s all in our delivery when we’re dealing with people.
Those disappointments changed this week, as I discovered a place where people deal with people differently. We arrived at a hotel where employees are trained to treat customers as people who deserve kindness and as people whose expectations should be exceeded. This is my kind of place, and the attitude can come into your place, be that your home, your classroom, or your business.
The employees I have met are exceptionally nice: they speak when you look their way, they smile when you catch their eye, they ask if there is anything they can do to help you, and they always say “It’s my pleasure” instead of “No problem” when you thank them for helping. After speaking with several employees, I’ve gathered a few points to take home with me to improve my business and personal relationships. I hope you will take them with you, too.
- Remember that the customer is paying your salary. Unhappy customers mean they probably won’t return, nor will they recommend you to someone else.
- Treat your customers the way you want to be treated when you are the customer. Do you want to be ignored? Do you want to be served badly cooked food? Do you want to be talked about unkindly?
- Be attentive and intuitive. If you pay attention, you’ll know what a customer needs before they do.
- Be consistent. Every customer deserves the same treatment. Just because one person appears to have more money than another or appears to be more powerful, don’t treat them differently. When you value people for being people, they will know.
- Be relaxed. The perception is that a customer doesn’t matter to you if you seem rushed and hurried. Make time for your customers. And if an employee is making time for your customers, reward that effort instead of punishing him for taking too long.
Even if you are a housewife, an architect, or an engineer, you have to deal with people. Treat them kindly. Treat them well. Let it be your pleasure.