Great Customer Service is Not Optional

I have been in the business of dealing with people my whole life. You probably have too. Starting with family dynamics, moving into school days, then professionally, I do not live in a bubble. Working with, around, and for people is just a way of life.

In real estate I deal with a ton of people. These great folks have questions, they are making big decisions. I am a needed advisor. I appreciate that and I do my best to fulfill that role.

I fail sometimes, we all do. But, great customer service is not optional – it is necessary.

I was shopping last night with my family. I think I found a great gift. Unfortunately I will never know because I didn’t buy it. Well, actually I did buy it. However, when the total was much more than what I expected, I asked questions. And, oh boy, did I get answers. Loud answers, with a big heaping of attitude, a bit of finger pointing, with some slight neck work.

“It really is fine,” I said. “I think I just misunderstood.”

“Well,” more finger, neck, and attitude, “you said you had shopped here before.”

Really, that’s the answer? I have done business with you at some point so I am aware of all the little nuances of your workings? And because I have shopped here before I can expect to be talked to like an idiot in front of your whole store?

I again mentioned it was fine and turned to leave. I changed my mind and returned the gift. I was not spending money in that store today. I attempted to be as polite as I could to the cashier. I gushed apologies to those waiting in line. I was not trying to be ugly or cause a scene. I simply will not support that type of behavior. Everyone seemed to understand.

I supposed I could have gotten angry. But this lesson of customer service goes deeper than two people separated by a sales counter. It speaks to the larger movement of how we treat one another. It occurred to me that mean is usually loud. The majority responds by stooping to that level against their own character, or simply sucking it up to forgo the confrontation. There has to be a third option. The polite, “I am not participating in this behavior” choice.

Dealing with others, I think it is important to remember a few key factors

  1. If someone is trying to be nice, let them and respond in kind.
  2. If someone is testy, remember we all have had bad days. There is no way to know who their last conversation was with or what other factors are at play. You could be the one smile that lifts their spirits.
  3. When someone insists on behaving poorly, interact only insomuch as you have to and with your own integrity. Sometimes it is unavoidable. Be who you are based on your own inner compass. Keep you in tact. Get it done and move on.
  4. Regardless of which side of the transaction or relationship we are on, respect and kindness are appropriate.

Regardless of your industry or how you spend the majority of your time, it is probable that you interact with others on a regular basis. I am sure you have more to add. Please feel free to do so. How do you pursue kindness with others? What do you do when that just isn’t going to work?


  1. Suzanne Walker says:

    I really enjoy ready your material!! This article in particular was insightful and thought-provoking. All too often we react to how people respond to us. I am a true believer in keeping it clean and simple. Kill them with kindness! Thanks, I look forward to reading more from you.

  2. Thanks Suzanne! I appreciate that. I love that – keep it clean and simple 🙂 you will forgive me if I use that one day. It is a great thought!

  3. Thanks for such a nice article. I really appreciate the key factors mentioned while dealing with customers. Knowledgeable article!

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