The Secret Ingredient of Influence

This weeks offering is at first I’m afraid a sad confessional.
But abandon not hope – there is a good ending.

Don’t you just love good customer service! I really appreciate it. Helen laughs – she knows that ‘Acts of Service’ is my number one love language.
No doubt most of you will have come across that great book by Gary Chapman called “The 5 Love Languages”.

Anyway, as I said, one of the ‘Love Languages’ is ‘Acts of Service’ and I really respond to it. For years I have had a high expectation of good service, along with a very strong sense that in fact I am entitled to good service.

Given the above, I have had some ‘interesting’ encounters over the years with customer service personnel. I hang my head in shame when I think of it now, but my view was – “I know what I want and how I want it, and I will patiently take whatever time you need, so you understand exactly what I want, but it is not negotiable for you to give me anything other than exactly what I have asked for.”

cranky food customer

I thought I was friendly and patient, but I know now that in reality I was insufferable!
My great complaints were “why does no-one care about their customers…?” and “where can you find someone who actually cares…?”

I spent hours and hours and hours trying to get someone on the other end of the phone to care enough to give me what I wanted. Call centres were nearly the death of me. And as for that speaking computer – spare me!!

Am I the only one who ever screamed “Operator… Operator… Operator… into the phone at that awful voice – and then get the answer – “I’m having a little difficulty in getting that…” please tell me again in two or three words how I can help you…”

And it seemed almost as if they knew I was coming, because the harder I tried to get them to care the more they made it obvious that they didn’t – in fact not a jot!

I had a major revelation one Thursday night trying to sort out a billing issue with that big telecoms company – you know, the one that starts with the letter after ‘S’. I got the same responses as above and when I eventually gave up I was fit to burst. And I heard a voice clearly speak to me saying “Look at the state of you. YOU KNEW before you picked up the phone what was going to happen and you did it anyway”. “You have got to find another way!”

You know those times when you suddenly come face to face with yourself and it is not pretty! I had one of those evenings. And then a few days later I listened as my beautiful, caring wife dealt with the issue in no time at all with an excellent outcome. She was friendly and caring and kindly asked for help – and got it.

margaretmead - caring

It hit me like a hammer – stop trying to get people to care for you. You care for them first. It has transformed my life. Instead of marching up to the flight desk and demanding and expecting a flight change or a seat change and getting nothing, I now ask for help and I take the time to get to know names. And I find people are all too happy to help. Now I get upgrades, I get credits on those telecoms accounts, and my customer service encounters are filled with smiles and thank you’s instead of scowls and resistance.

And at the end of all that, my humble moment of clarity is ‘care first’ and ‘care always’. That, I think, is the Secret Ingredient of Influence.

Have a great week. I really enjoy your feedback and welcome it.

All the Best, Brian.
+61 408 277773

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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