Tuesday, May 12, 2009

If the customer is always right.

If the customer is always right, then yesterday I was an asshole and a racist.

If anyone on the blog follows my twitter then you would have seen that yesterday I broke the cardinal rule. I let a customer get to me. I feel it necessary to tell the whole story.

As the afternoon was shaping up, I was rolling. I was getting new customers, renewing old ones, and I was driving revenue for my company. I was actually in a good mood. Everything was clicking. Then a series of customers came in that really started to grind me down.

Customer 1 wasn't as bad as it could have been, but the funny part about this guy is the day before. I was helping a young girl get her new phone fixed. She was being very abusive to the charging port of her phone so it needed to be replaced. As I was replacing it, my manager was working next to me with an escalated customer [read: pissed off]. As he is working with one escalation, another approaches. My manager was able to appease the pissed off people he was with, then that is when Customer 1 walked up. He was mad about his new BlackBerry. He had "3 replacements and they are all doing the same thing, it's a piece of junk, he wanted a new one."

The bad part about having an innovative product for mass distribution is that there are certain growing pains that come with new technology. There are kinks to be worked out. It will not be perfect until that product gets into the hands of abusive customers. That is when the kinks get worked out. Usually these things get fixed quickly, but then again, we know the general public are a bunch of impatient jerks.

So Customer 1 starts to talk to the other pissed of customers and says that he "sued this company for the time an aggravation it took for a replacement phone and the amount of times he needed to come in and deal with his non working phone." Let the bullshit rain begin. He said that "The corporate people called him and thought that it was a joke and said that they wouldn't go to court." He later went on to say that, "well if you don't go then I will get a default judgment in my favor." I mean this guy was laying it on think. Having been in the retail business for close to 10 years now, I can tell when someone is trying to justify their anger. They are like the rooster trying to fuck the hen house. They are puffing up that meek exterior in order to impress someone else and prove that they are right. I saw right thought his bullshit and noticed that he was holding the very BlackBerry I am now using. So fixing his issue was going to really take 13 seconds. But I was with a customer. As Customer 1 continues he gets mad and starts to walk out. That is when my customer sprang into action.

"Excuse me, sir?" she said in one of those hurried tones. Customer 1 stops and turns around, "If [this company] sucks as bad as you say it does and you successfully sued them, then why do you still choose to use this company?"

My jaw hit the floor. Holy shit. The balls or virtual balls this girl had. I think Customer 1 felt silly getting asked this from a 18 year old girl, but he was embarrassed and then left in a real big hurry. He returned yesterday and immediately wanted to talk to a manger. My manager on duty was working next to me as always, because I have a certain way of diffusing situations by proxy. I can over hear a situation, see my customer is getting that evil eye, and then I loudly educate this customer on how to prevent what ever issue that complaining customer is talking about. It works, complaining customers feel stupid, I am happy because I make 2 customers happy at once and they leave.

Well Customer 1 was complaining that his BlackBerry didn't work. Every issue he was telling us was 100% a real issue. The only issue is that it happens with every single one of them. There are several fixes on the internet, and best practices to reduce issues, and now that I have one of these "shitty" BlackBerrys, I know every single one of them. So I am with my customer and I ask permission from my customer to help out my manager. I literally pushed my manager aside and said, "Dude, a new blackberry isn't going to help you, just like it didn't the first 3 times we gave you a new one. Here is what you have to do." I took his BlackBerry and went into his settings and removed some programs that make the BB run slow. I hand it over and said, " Here is a list of websites that are BlackBerry communities. These are the geeks of BlackBerry. 80% of them have this phone and there are fixes and programs to make this thing disgustingly awesome." He said that he knew about all these sites and said that he couldn't use any of them because he had a Mac. The fact that he thought too long to tell me he had a Mac made me test him. So I start with, "You have a mac [imagine me making that thinking face] then you have Mac OS 9 right?"

He said, "Yeah its awesome! It's fast, and I think I want an iPhone." One thing you should never do is pick an agrument with a geek because they will make you look and feel dumb. My follow-up question, "When did you get it?"

"Last week." He said.

"How did you get Mac OS 9 on it?"

"It came with it." I should have told this guy to stop and tell him that he was lying, but what the hell, that is no fun.

"Well if you got it last week, there is no way. I have a Mac Book Pro and I got mine 6 months ago and I have Mac OS 10.5. But no matter which one you got, it'll work with a BlackBerry because mine works with it."

Customer 1 fails. He leaves and didn't get another phone. His phone will be fixed shortly and he will still not have learned his lesson.

So that being said, I got another customer yesterday that I let get to me, but I think he only got to me because Customer 1 was such an asshole.

So let me set up Customer 2 or as I will call him Dirka Dirka. Dirka Dirka came in Saturday and wanted to upgrade using one of our promotions. Be didn't pay his bill on time so he had a past due, so until he pays it, he can't do anything. He was pissed because, "He mailed it in." That could be true, but the situation still remains, we haven't gotten it so your account is still past due. He understood and said he would be back Monday. That's cool, but I told him 3 times that the promotion he wanted to take advantage of ended on Sunday. He 'said' that he understood but he left anyway.

Monday was here faster than a 18 year old's premature ejaculation. Dirka Dirka came in and of course, like I told him, the promotion had ended and the price of the phone he wanted went up by $50.00. Sorry dude, I told you it was going to happen.

Well customers think that we can do whatever. They think that walking into my store is like walking into a flea market [not my description, but one of my co-workers]. Let's haggle these prices. Well the thing about it is, we can't haggle. The price is what it is. It's already severely discounted.

So as this transaction kept going he said that he wanted to leave my company. He said that [insert any one else here] would do what he asked. Having been around a while, I can tell you without equivocation, no they won't. Every single company out there besides mine, will make you wait until your 24th month to get a new phone at any kind of discount. My company will do it for you every year, if you have a certain price plan, which Dirka Dirka had. I never told him I couldn't do anything, I just told him what I COULD do for him. I could give him a comparable phone for the same price, oh and its brand new too.

He finally just said get him the phone he wants, he will buy it and then switch, but he needed a phone today. I was disgusted. You want me to sell you a phone when you tell me you are going to leave. Ok, cool, because it's resigning your contract for 2 years and you're going to have to pay a fee.

I left and got the phone. I started to ring it out and I had to tell him [its the law] that he is signing a new contract and that he will be subject to a early termination fee of up to $175.00.

He then promptly called me an asshole. I shrug it off. I have been called worse. He then told me that he was NOT getting a discount and the only reason he wasn't getting a discount was because I was a racist. I snapped. I loath being called a racist.

Why? Because it shows 2 things. That I am that closed minded, and that this guy had lied to me enough. He didn't mail in his bill, he made a payment that same day over the phone with a credit card. That was just the beginning.

I told the customer to follow me. I ripped the price tag off the wall and showed him how much the phone he wanted was. It was $409.99. That is the cost it costs me to put this phone on the shelf. I am selling it to you at this price. $199.99 with a rebate of $70.00. He called me an asshole once again, mind you in a lobby FULL of customers. I said that if he called me an asshole one more time that I would gladly send his account up to our regional manger and she will GLADLY cancel your service for being this abusive to an employee who is TRYING to help you out. I don't have to give you this price, I can tell you to go pound salt, just like EVERYOTHER company will. He left very angry and very pissed off, and my blood pressure was so high, my face was red and my hands were shaking.

My manger whisked me away to the back and was laughing. He said, "never have I seen a customer say those things to a rep and the rep never backed down. The rep would have folded and started crying in the back." He said I tried to do the right thing, and had it been him, he didn't think he could keep his cool as long as I did. I told him that I was sorry, but I didn't like being called a racist or an asshole repeatedly. He agreed.

But I broke that rule. I let him get to me. He wasn't mad at me. He was mad at himself and took that frustration out on me and my company because the phone he broke was the source of his anger. It wasn't my fault he threw his phone on the ground in a fit of rage. It wasn't my fault he didn't pay his bill. It wasn't my fault that this guy was a Class A asshole.

Vacation is just 3 days and 14 hours away. I'm not counting down.


~K said...

In the end you won..You are still you and he is and always likely be an asshole!

Just Jules said...

well really - you probably saved the company a few customers. Had I been in there and seen the exchange I imagine I might have left the building (especially if I had the kids with) to escape the explosion. Yet, you getting the guy out of there would have kept me in there to get the contract I will then keep forever, cuz I hate change