How can we help them help us?

Companies spend millions of dollars every year on customer service education.

And it really works. When I was in the corporate training business, many of those organizations hired me to conduct workshops for their staff, and customer service scores almost always increased within a few weeks of the programs.

But what amazes me is how little time and energy is focused on the reverse. Nobody really teaches us how to become better customers ourselves, which is an underrated life skill.

If we want to increase the return on experience on the other side of the cash register, then we can’t just sit back and wait for service providers to read our minds and make us happy. We ask ourselves the leverage question, how can we help them help us?

As guests, patients, viewers, clients, patrons, members, visitors, users, callers, listeners, customers, whatever, we have to proactively make ourselves more serviceable. Otherwise we’re equally at fault for not getting what we want, the way we want it.

Take a standard massage parlor. It’s amazing how often customers walk out the door and whine about having a poor experience. About how the massage therapist never does it the way they like it.

Can you believe that masseuse talked the whole time? How am I supposed to relax?

And my thought is always, well, whose fault is that? Is it possible you had a bad experience because you don’t know how to be a good customer? Is it possible you didn’t get your needs met because you didn’t speak up?

Look, it’s simple. If you don’t want your massage therapist yapping your ear off, then you need to speak up and let her know that silence is essential to your relaxation. Otherwise you’ll lay there on the table, growing resentful at her for being chatty and not reading your mind, and ruin the entire experience.

If you’re not willing to take three seconds before the massage starts and announce to your therapist that you prefer silence, then it’s your fault the experience sucks, not theirs.

It comes down to expectational clarity. Being a better customer means sharing what’s important to you. Letting service providers in on your preferences in advance. And helping them delivering your unique vision of what happiness looks and feels like.

That’s why they’re there. To serve you. It’s literally what you’re paying them for.

But you have to meet them halfway. You have to make yourself more serviceable.

Don’t get mad because some stranger didn’t realize that what you said wasn’t actually what you meant.

They just work here.

How good of a customer are you?


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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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