How to be a good customer

I want to address something I see in the space disturbingly frequently. That is aggressive and confrontational attitudes from customers who are upset for something that they are failing at. Not a failure of the product, a failing or misunderstanding of the user.

That is not an attack on all customers who hit up a customer service line and are upset, many have legitimate concerns they need to address. This is not a denial that companies ever get things wrong, egregiously sometimes. It highlights an attitude some customers have where they are seemingly more interested in being righteously mad than solving the problem they have with a product.

These are the customers who the customer service people dread, because they will lie and abuse, they will rant and insult, they will get on their “righteous” high horse of customerhood and be the big mad at the person trying to assist them.

Anyone who has worked customer service knows that, “the customer is always right” is among the most error filled five words ever uttered by mankind. Now, this does not mean the customer doesn’t have a legitimate problem or that you, a customer service agent of some manner, may have to use a platitude of some form that just brings the customer closure. I am pointing out that some of the angriest customers are often horrifically wrong in the placement of their ire and cannot fathom their own contributions to their current problem.

Now, I have tried my utmost not to be this customer. I believe I have failed, especially when dealing with my internet service provider and their frustrating politeness. That required polite script takes so absurdly long to get through, their scripts that make a phone call that could have been 5 to 15 minutes of troubleshooting quadruple in duration. I don’t need to be thanked nine times on the call to fix your service for being a customer, once is fine. So I am guilty as well.

That said, if you’re looking for help, below is not a format to go about getting that help. This is the format to get you labelled a Ken/Karen/Kevin nightmare customer, it gets you shittalked once the call is done or you leave promising, “to take your business elsewhere!” and everyone choruses, “Good. You’re too stupid to shop here.”

[PRODUCT] is a great product in theory but I’m less than satisfied. The [Part of PRODUCT] is great, but the [other part of PRODUCT] is bogus. My [Firearm] still prints no matter what I do. Extremely disappointed in terms of concealment and comfort. I’m a smaller guy what but don’t even think I could conceal tuck a sub compact. Videos and Adverts were definitely misleading.

This is a cry for help disguised as a bad review. We, customers, need to stop doing that.

We need to ask for help. The fuddboomer trend of being abysmally wrong about how something works and mad about it is beyond tired. It needs to die. If something isn’t working as designed and advertised, our first steps should be check the user manual, the FAQs, and finally get in touch with those with experience in its use. Finally, especially with worn items, it might not be a fit for you. That happens. Understand that if hundreds or thousands of people like a product, and are very satisfied with the product, and you are not, this makes you the exception and not the rule.

Now just because you are the exception does not make you wrong, necessarily. But it doesn’t make you right either.

Here we have the classic example of, “I am why dumb warning labels exist.”

I want you to ponder with me a moment on what caused this person’s laser to be “blown apart on the second round.” Give it a good ole’ thinking in your noggin’. Rattle it around just a little.

Do you think you have it?

The context clues are all there.

He put a ported barrel into a non-ported slide.

This turned the interior of his slide into a weird three sided gas trap, with the fourth direction (down) now being the path of least resistance. So the gas vents up through the ports (as designed), hits the interior of the slide meant for regular barrels, diverts around the barrel, covers the guide rod and spring in hot carbon infused goodness, and then vents out the open spaces in the pistols dust cover… the dust cover that on a Glock G19 Gen5 is still made of nice durable, but flexible, polymer. Polymer that wasn’t designed to flex so quickly catching the gas discharge of a ported barrel inside of a non-ported slide.

This unintended and undesigned for flex could, and did, absolutely wreck a more sensitive electronic device attached to the dust cover.

Now, there were two options for this customer,

a. Admit fault, that your poor choices and failure to rudimentarily consider the basic physics of how guns and porting works wrecked your gun’s laser (and could have wrecked your gun).

b. Blame the point of sale and demand a disclaimer to do your basic thinking for you and try to shame the point of sale into fixing your mistake or harming their reputation.

They chose b.

My favorite part of the review, “Lucky for me CT is sending me a new laser under warranty.”

Read between the lines here, “It is a more profitable use of CT’s time to just send you a laser to shut you up than spend the effort to tell you this is your fault.” Every customer service person in any industry has seen this or done this. Shut a wrong customer up because it was easier too just give them the thing than continue to be correct. Unfortunately this is negative reinforcement and can have negative consequences for future interactions. Be annoying and screechy enough and you get what you want especially when you are not in the right.

Ignorance is no defense from breaking the law.

We should apply this logic to the laws of physics too.

I, user/customer, did something dumb, I broke the thing. I should expect to pay for the thing and express gratitude if the company and supporting staff can ease that pain, offset the cost, or defer the cost entirely. I have a handful of companies who have earned my patronage for life because of small acts I should have, and was prepared to, pay for that they then went out of there way to support me instead.

That is the shift in attitude that we must all continue to engender. That is the point of this post, or rant, or PSA as you may see it. The attitude to accept when things are our fault and we need help, instead of taking the offrontary attitude that somehow our failing or ill-fitment is a direct attack against us personally by a company and that the company needs to put in the effort to ‘make it right’.

Sometimes companies screw up. They should own that. Sometimes we do too. We should own that.

We learn more and we grow learning from our errors and asking questions. Asking for help is asking to be better. Making the decision to go with another good or service because the one in question isn’t a good fit for you is equally making you better. The attitude of ‘it didn’t work for me but may for you’ in a product or service.

What this is hard to balance against is fandom culture. They like the thing because it is their thing and ascribe it quality that it objectively doesn’t possess because of it. This can also relate to the false positive association of the absence of negative results.

That last sentence is a ton of large words jumbled together so let me clarify. Just because the thing, your thing, has not done something bad, or wrong, or hasn’t broken in your use, doesn’t mean someone else’s hasn’t. This is one of those circumstances where the company is the entity needing to step up, their failed within the parameters of use as directed.

We’re looking at subjective failures vs. objective failures. Something broke within its scope of use, instead of breaking or failure outside its scope of use. We, as customers, need to work on increasing our self-awareness on identifying which is which. Your internet service streaming constantly at the speed you pay for and at the capacity of the devices you own and have on that network without (reasonable, like weather outage) interruption is an expected standard. The internet working without you plugging all the components in properly and following the install directions is not an expected standard. The providing company is responsible for the former. The company is not responsible for your comprehension of the latter, only its reasonable explanation and provision of direction. Customer service will spend their time helping both customers but they are truly only liable for the service, they customer experience is part of the latter.

But being a good customer, knowing you might be making errors and working to fix them with customer service people instead of fermenting hostility,

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.