Thursday, April 8, 2010

Customer Dis-service or I didn't get what I wanted!

Last week I walked into the bridal shop to try a dress for my girlfriend's wedding in the summer.  This particular shop seems to have the market share for brides, bridesmaids and prom going teens in the area.  Everyone went there.  I walked in, told the customer service rep. the bride's name, and was encouraged to browse because 'Susan' (name changed to protect the guilty) was going to serve me.

I have to admit a few things.  My heart dropped when I recognised Susan to be a Jamaican woman.  My belief that customer service from Jamaicans is less than desirable immediately came to the surface.  I ought to know.  I'm Jamaican.  It's not that all Jamaicans give poor service, but let's say that the reputation exisits (See Misery's West Indian Restaurant).  This is not a sociological treatment of the whys and where-with-alls of the situation.  This is just me exploring the effects of my belief.

So Susan came over to me, enquired concerning my needs and went off to get me two size 4 dresses to try on.  She directed me to a changing room that already had clothes in it, and set about her other tasks as I changed into the first dress.  I felt a little exposed, as the dress was too big, and Susan glanced casually my way, came over to pinch the sides and announced that I would need a 2 in that style.  She told me to try the other.  When I came out in the other dress, she was no-where to be found.  I waited for her for several minutes, in the meanwhile, calling the bride.  I asked, "Am I being tortured by Susan because I called your name?" to which she replied "Oh, yes, I should have warned you about her.  We just helped ourselves".  With more support to my belief that this would be a bad service experience, I started to become quite angry.  Susan came back, offering me the other dress, told me the one I had was fine, all the while folding another unrelated garment in her hand.  When I asked about the fit of the top of the dress, she waved her hand at me, dismissing the concern, pointing out that I had on the wrong bra, and if I purchased the $79 bustier bra, all would be well.

Enough said about that.  By the time I left the store, I was mad at the owners for treating their monopoly with little care, mad at the customer service person for putting me, a Jamaican woman, to be served by the other Jamaican woman in the store, mad at Susan for being inatttentive.... With the uncomfortable irritation present, I started to ask mysefl the questions.  Why was I so mad?  Several thoughts came to mind, but the thought path I was most attracted to was this one:
  • I expected Susan to give poor service
  • Susan treated me as I expected
  • I didn't get what I wanted (which I didn't expect...hmmm)
  • I judged her for not giving me what I wanted
  • I compared myself with her, and determined that my customer service is not like hers! (so I need to judge something as bad to see what I do as useful and beneficial?)
  • My negative judgement of her justified my anger
  • If I got angry enough, it would give me courage to say something to someone about the service
Just looking at it, I saw how not helpful, even tedious, most of those responses were.  First, by expecting the service to be poor, I set the stage for the judgement.  I didn't position myself as a loving, accepting presence.  As I think about it now, what if I had put Susan in my mental playroom?  How would I have responded to her?  What if I engaged her with the thought that she is doing the best she can given whatever she is believing right now, and I can just cheer her on, celebrate (internally) the 70% of her service that was useful and be grateful?

As I write this, I realize that Susan is just an example of my response when I don't get my way.  I have also been getting pretty angry with the children, too.  Their explorations and enthusiasm to act out whatever comes to mind has not been met with much celebration by me.  Dog-gone-it! They should just do things my way! Forget the lofty ideals. My conversation to them sounds very similar to the tantrums they throw...

Yet, as I reposition mysslf mentally, they are such wonderful kids, eager to learn and explore.  I can lose grumpy and take gratitude!  It's just a switch of the gears.

When I am happy, I feel fantastic!  My attitude is infectious and may help others to get their happy going on too.  I nurture myself and I may be more nurturing to the others in my space, the Susan's I encounter, and definately my kids!  I think even some of the consequences I send their way would be more useful coming from a grateful, loving, accepting mom.

That's my intention for tomorrow!  Gratitude!  What's yours?


  1. and, tickingly I offer additionally, that perhaps the choice to do angry, is in part also out of fear,...fear of not getting ones way, or believing oneself as powerless. bw

  2. hey bw, thanks. that anger fear connection is definitely there with the kids. The mental position of running away from something, vs moving towards it. In other settings I think the anger gives me permission/courage to do things I probably wouldn't have otherwise done, like speak to customer service or whatever. I think that links back to fear ... perceived powerlesness...

  3. Faith, how beautiful. So often, I walk into a restaurant, scan the staff for attentiveness, and then either stay or walk out. Sometimes, it occurs to me that I can inspire amazing service; sometimes it occurs to me that there's absolutely no chance of it working.

    In the end, the determining factor is how whether or not I'm willing to not get what I want.

    Thank you!


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