I’ve seen it before, we all have. Somebody gets an order that is screwed up and they get mad, really mad and then vent on the first person willing to help them.

Does it help?

Not at all. The thing is, if you yell at somebody they are less inclined to be helpful, especially if they weren’t involved in the original screw up.

Here are a couple of examples:

  1. While talking to a customer service rep (whose company I won’t disclose) she told me that the customer service reps often have the option to fix problems and refund the customer’s payment or give them a discount or credit for future purchases.  She continued by saying that she would only offer them if the customer was polite. If a customer was rude, disrespectful or demanding then she would fix the problem but not offer a “bonus” for good behavior – as she put it.
  2. Today, I ordered a carryout dinner from a local resturaunt. When I got home with the order I discovered that it was completely wrong. I called the resturaunt back and explained the situation and they offered to fix it for free (as they should). Imagine my suprize when I got there and discovered only half of the order was replaced. The waitress who took my second call didn’t know the full order and only passed on what another waitress told her. I didn’t get mad or angry – people screw up sometimes. Getting mad just makes everyone miserable and doesn’t really solve anything. To make a long story short, I recieved four steaks, onion rings, enough side dishes to last a week for $20 and they even gave me a gift certificate for my next visit just for being a good sport about it. 

I don’t know anyone who would rather deal with an angry customer over a pleasant one.

Moral: The next time your order is messed up, whether it is food, or a lab order, or something else, try to show a little understanding that everyone makes mistakes sometimes and that being nice can get you a lot more help in the long run.  In other words – “you can catch more flies with honey, than vinegar.”

4-07-09 UPDATE: bonus link I had intended to add when I posted this article but couldn’t find the link.  It is a great website full of reader submitted stories of funny customer service conversations.  The website is called – NotAlwaysRight.com