by David Ham | April 25, 2018
Customer feedback enables customers to tell a company how well it performs so it can better serve customer needs. But companies can provide feedback to customers as well, such as offering customers a polite thanks and gratitude when they show civility.
On a recent flight, I had a different kind of experience. It occurred during a very familiar moment for flyers, when a flight attendant walks down the aisle to collect any remaining “service items” in preparation for landing.
I was seated in an aisle seat. The flight attendant had stopped at our row and taken my cup. As she moved on to the row behind us, she didn’t notice that the person by the window in my row was reaching over with an empty cup. So, I gently called out to the flight attendant. She came back, took his cup, then continued down the aisle.
Suddenly, the flight attendant stopped and came back to my row. She said she wanted to thank me.
I asked her why. She explained that she appreciated how I had politely called out to her and asked her to come back, as opposed to the “grabbing or hitting” that she said was the norm. (Really? People are still “grabbing” people in the #MeToo era?). I think I said something profound like, “You’re welcome. I can’t believe this is something that even needs to be mentioned.” She said I’d be surprised how rude customers can be.
There is research suggesting that social media makes people behave more rudely. An article published by “Psychology Today” suggests that the “lack of eye contact” makes it easy for people to behave more rudely. The article also quotes research showing that there is “a relationship between workplace incivility and workplace dissatisfaction.” Likewise, research published by “Harvard Business Review” indicates that while pretty much everyone experiences rudeness in the workplace sometimes, the frequency is rising.
Does your staff take the time to sincerely thank a customer who has shown patience, even though the customer might have been justified in showing frustration?
I have spent a fair amount of time thinking about this brief conversation and what it implies for civility in our current society. Google Dictionary defines “civility” as “formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech.” Apparently, civility is what the flight attendant experienced when I simply called out to her. What was striking to me was that she thought it noteworthy enough to stop what she was doing and come back and thank me for it.
What if we did more to acknowledge civility from our clients? Does your staff take the time to sincerely thank a customer who has shown patience, even though the customer might have been justified in showing frustration instead? Does your staff consistently express their gratitude to customers who don’t complain about standing in a long line for service, or waiting on hold for customer support? Or, conversely, does your staff tend to respond to customer frustration by consciously or subconsciously showing frustration of their own?
I have always thought about customer feedback in terms of customers providing the feedback to us. They tell us how well we perform so we can learn to better serve their needs and earn their trust or loyalty. But maybe we need to provide feedback to customers as well. Perhaps it’s not as direct as the conversation the flight attendant initiated, but it might start with consistent polite thanks and gratitude when customers show civility.
CFI Group offers expertise in helping businesses measure and manage the customer and employee experience. Contact us for more information on how you can leverage feedback, both to and from customers, to grow your business.