Since my online writing beginnings in 2007 as a casual writer to a behind the scenes content person for small businesses now, I’ve seen some big changes in how businesses approach their presence online. In the three years since I’ve been writing content for small businesses I’ve learned one major thing:
The best online marketing plan on earth won’t make up for rudeness and an unwillingness to be humble with your customer.
I can spend hours writing content with a friendly, welcoming tone, stating that the business is there for their customer’s needs 24/7. I can make it perfectly clear that the business WANTS business and will provide the service they are selling with a friendly face, kind words, and a smile.
When a person online reads this, believes my words, calls the business only to be met with defensiveness, rudeness, and an overwhelming desire to get in the last word, I’ve just been made a liar.
I spent many years on the front line of dealing with the public. I worked in retail, restaurants, front offices and phone software support. I’ve worked with children and their parents. I’ve seen people be crazy mad, upset, fearful, and even sad. Here’s what you DO NOT do:
Hang up on them. Turn your back. Tell them that their business isn’t worth your time or effort. Tell them that they don’t understand what YOU have to deal with being the owner of said business.
Being Humble Is Hard
I get it. Being humble is hard. It’s really difficult to listen to someone yelling at you. Listen anyway. Because really, that’s what most of us truly want: to be heard.
Most of the time, when I was dealing with a person who was really hot, my silence while they vented was all it took to cool them down. I would say, “I hear you. This is my understanding of what happened. What would you like the result of this conversation to be?” If they interrupt you, let them.
If you are providing a service, you may believe that your customer needs you and your knowledge, and therefore when they have a complaint they couldn’t possibly know what they are talking about. You’re wrong. You don’t know what your customer has been through that day, that week, or that month, or even that year. That’s when you allow yourself to be a blank slate. They can call you any name in the book. Let it roll off your back. Get to the heart of the problem, do your best to fix it, and then move on. As often as possible make certain that the customer leaves the conversation feeling like they’ve been heard.
Service Is More Than You Think
The root of the word service is serve. Did you know there are two definitions of serve? One is to perform duties and services for a person or organization. This is the second definition:
be of service to, be of use to, help, assist, aid, make a contribution to,do one’s bit for, do something for, benefit
As a business owner, success depends on you embodying both definitions.