What’s it like to do business with you? Ever ask? How often do you imagine what it’s like to be in your customers’ shoes? Not often I bet. Instead, and we’ve all done it, we complain about them. Their indecision, repetitive questions, and struggles frustrate us. When we try to help and they don’t return calls, our patience wears thin. If we are tired or wired we might even feel justified and unloved. If it’s a really bad day, we vent with friends and talk about how hard business is.
This is all normal. Human interactions are complicated. How can we bless customers and their imperfections when we aren’t feeling it? What gets in the way is our fantasy about the perfect client. They should be easy, never doubt you, pay early, always be on time, be super grateful and tell all their friends about you. But it’s not like that all the time.
Last night as I sat at Maria’s Kitchen getting to know a super-successful businesswoman who has a number of employees, she brought it all home. Her reps and designers gripe when the customers are impatient, need an overnight turn-around, turn in material that is sized wrong and needs tweaking. While it’s frustrating, she reminds them to be grateful for the annoyances. If they didn’t have those needs, they’d do business with an on-line company with no customer service. Those customers pay their salaries.
I am not suggesting that you endure abuse. I am saying that you are needed. You are a midwife of change. It’s your job to listen deeply and take people from indecision and fear and make it simple and easy for them to get through it. That’s what you are paid to do. Besides that, customers can be a great personal growth class. Stalk yourself and notice how you act with customers and would be clients. Do you go cold when they get needy? Are you compassionate and understanding? You must be able to go into the eye of the storm with people and lead them through chaos to calm. Customers are great mirrors and teachers. The irritants provide the greatest lessons and the hardest to satisfy teach you to disqualify and disconnect faster or love them a bunch more. And when the rare easy one comes along, I call it grace!