Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another day, another lesson...

“Personally, I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.” ~Winston Churchill

Lessons are everywhere...we just have to see them.

Last night, like most other nights, my BF and I had a late night craving for a French Vanilla. I am fortunate to live in an area where everything you want is available within a few blocks...including a Tim Hortons at the bottom of my building (right next to my gym - but for some reason I rarely have late night cravings for a run on the treadmill)!

Now when I say "most other nights" I'm not exaggerating. We stop by this Timmies about 5-6 times a week, always in the evening. I have had a few "unpleasant encounters" with the day staff and actually boycotted this location for a while...before realizing the nearest Iced Cap fix is a subway station away!

Well the evening staff know us well and we always stop to chat. We have never had a problem with them. Until yesterday. 

We waited in line for a bit and then stepped up to give our order. The conversation went as follows:

Lady serving us (not a regular evening staff member): "Next!"
BF: "Hi, how are you tonight?"
Lady: "What's your order? There's a line."

Now, yes there was a line of people behind us...about 3 people were waiting. But not one of them seemed like they were about to drop dead of starvation or at the very least she could have offered us a perfunctory "Fine."...but instead she decides to give us ATTITUDE?!?! I was livid and ready to give this woman a piece of mind about what customer service means and the fact that we were paying customers just like everyone else in line, and maybe if she was a bit friendlier with her customers people wouldn't be so frustrated at having to wait in line and that it is her JOB to serve us and ensure that our experience is a pleasant one! I worked in customer service for years and would never DARE to talk to a customer like that! I know everyone has bad days and it's hard to be pleasant all the time...but I also know that it's part of the job and if you can't handle it it's time to brush up the resume and find a job somewhere in a cave where you don't have to interact with other human beings. I would have finished up with a request to speak to the manager and told her that she had better straighten up her act or I would see to it that she never worked in this city again! And then I would have placed my order, paid my money, had my French Vanilla and been too angry to enjoy it.

But instead this is what happened:

Lady serving us: "Next!"
BF: "Hi, how are you tonight?"
Lady: "What's your order? There's a line."
BF (taking his time): "Hm. I would like to order from that lady instead." (Turns away and goes to the other woman working).

BF: "Hi, how are you tonight?"
2nd Lady: "I'm good! How are you guys? Your hair looks different today!"
BF: "You like?"
2nd Lady: "Yes, it's nice! (turns to a 3rd woman) Do you like his hair like this?"

We chatted briefly, placed our order and left with smiles on our faces. The 2 women who served us also had smiles when we left and even the first woman tried (unsuccessfully) to get in on our conversation when she saw us all laughing.

It wasn't until we left that I realized what had just happened. BF had quickly avoided a bad situation without getting angry or worked up. The rude woman was left feeling ashamed and slightly stupid while everyone else was able to go on enjoying their day! Most importantly I was able to enjoy my French Vanilla without any anger or frustration getting in the way.

Lesson learned: Even though many people in customer service don't seem to understand that part of their job is to ensure the customer leaves smiling, maybe there are better ways to deal with rude service people then to retaliate with my own dose of rude. So the next time I am in a store or restaurant (or even on the TTC) and am faced with terrible customer-service I won't yell or lecture or even ask for the manager. I will smile...and just walk away knowing that karma's a b#&%* so I don't have to be!

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