How NOT to Treat a Customer

by Rebecca on October 26, 2014

Customer ConceptA few weeks ago, our blog was not working.  The post was mailing out properly but when you tried to leave a comment it would not let you.  This normally would not be an issue, but since you had to leave a comment in order to be eligible to win a book, it was a REALLY big issue.

I am not tech savvy at all and one of the reasons I hired Heather, as my virtual executive assistant is to get the blog online.  When this issue came up, I was no help. Heather could not figure it out either, so we emailed our tech support “guy” to ask for help.  His initial fix didn’t work so we had to get in touch with him again to get this fixed ASAP.

The good news is he ultimately did get it fixed. Unfortunately, his communication style involved being condescending and talking down to us.  While I am grateful for his help, it is stunning to me that anyone would treat a customer this way.

I was hoping that we were misinterpreting his emails but I called him out on it and he said, “He was sorry I felt that way”- Awesome- thanks for caring so much!

A few months ago, we had Brian, an old client, come up from Charlotte so we could do a second TPLO on his dog, Hunter.  Surgery went well and Brian wanted to take Hunter home, which was fine with us since he had been through this before.  Overnight, Hunter had a little blood oozing from the incision and Brian was concerned so he took Hunter to the local emergency clinic.

Thankfully, all was fine but what was shocking to me was how the emergency veterinarian made Brian FEEL.

She told him the bandage was unnecessary and that “her surgeons” didn’t use them.  She asked why he had the surgery done in Raleigh and he told her because he knew us and we were also significantly less expensive than the surgeons in Charlotte.  She then told him he should have had the TPLO done at NCSU and he (correctly) told her they don’t actually do TPLOs (they perform TTO’s) and she proceeded to argue with him about that.  Crazy-right?

The reason I bring up these two incidents is not because the expert in either situation did a lousy job.  In fact, our IT guy responded quickly and ultimately got it fixed.  The veterinarian examined Hunter and eased Brian’s mind that the small amount of blood was fine.

These “experts” they did their job BUT they both made their customers feel BAD.

Who knows why they did this-maybe a bad day or maybe they thought we were idiots?  Does it really matter? All I know is Brian will NEVER step foot in that emergency clinic again- he will drive to one further away where he is treated like he should be.

For us, we are cringing because we may need to call this “IT guy” again for help-we feel stuck because we do not know who else to turn to when there is another issue.  I can tell you though, Heather and I both hope whoever helps us makes us feel BETTER instead of making us feel BAD.

 It is not enough to be the expert.  If you want to do well, then you better be the expert who also goes out of their way to make their customers feel like you care!

Have you ever been in a situation where the person helping you did their job but they made you feel terrible in the process?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Justin October 26, 2014 at 9:43 am

We see this exact situation all to often. Instead of providing customer care and compassion these service providers argue the point or exasperate the client ultimately creating a tense situation. Good call and good discussion.

Can you share how you found Heather, your virtual EA? We have been considering virtual EA for quite some time.



Dan October 26, 2014 at 9:56 am

Justin is right. Small people feel compelled to argue, belittle or tear you down to lift themselves up. To show you how much less they are. This goes back to the core value of humility. Soft skills are so under revealed. This thread hits home. Thank you


Rebecca October 26, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Yes humility and not trying to make people feel inferior is not something we are trained to do that is. Fr sure- at many schools the opposite of this is modeled! Luckily my surgical mentors were great and reasonably humble by surgeons standards at least!

Thanks for commenting!


Rebecca October 26, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Justin- I use EAHelp and they are great. Heather has been with me for almost 3 years and I am able to accomplish so much more with her help. If you check them out- tell Brian and Shannon I sent you their way!

Yes it amazes me how often this happens in our world. The good thing is specialists like us who don’t do that have as many calls and cases as we can handle- funny how that works!

Thanks for commenting!


TJF October 26, 2014 at 2:08 pm

I can’t speak to the ER vet situation ( thank God I haven’t experienced that, SO FAR ) but the “IT Guy” situation….oh yeah….LOTS of times, since I got my first computer. ( my friends have gone thru the same thing, too )

I have been lucky that I weeded out the bad ones over the years and the last two I have had for the last many years, were really nice, patient and not condescending, plus they do the job right. I even learned things from them !

But in the past, I have encountered MANY ‘tech guys” who were very impatient, then then got condescending and snippy. Hard to learn or understand anything when someone is treating you like an idiot. I think because they know a lot more than ‘we’ do, things that throw us, seem like child’s play to them …but that is why we HIRE them…they are the ‘experts.”

I am writing this to let you know that you are not alone in the condescending tech guy experience….I have had many, but over the years, gradually weeded out the bad ones. If anyone starts that with me, be it a physician, vet, tech guy or ANYONE, they are OFF THE LIST. I don’t try to work with them, because those types don’t change.


Rebecca October 26, 2014 at 2:14 pm

I know I was so irritated and I tried to be understanding but you are right- people that treat you that way will always treat you that way- best to find someone new!


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