I’m taking a risk with the title of this post. “One Weird Trick…” is a hook used by endless spam bots and shady malware/adware/click farms. You have surely seen these. Ads promise that you can win the lottery, learn to speak a new language, find true love, and have flawless skin, all by using one weird trick.
But I really do know one weird trick that causes me to receive much better customer service than most anyone I know. Well, I don’t think it is weird. It is just how I was raised. But it must be kind of unusual for some people, based on the reactions I get.
I treat everyone I meet as if they are important, interesting, helpful, and kind new friends. I don’t make class distinctions between my professional colleagues and the support staff that enable us to do our jobs. I have seen people look past the house keeper, server, or store clerk as if the person didn’t even exist… that is until they need something. Then, they deign to tell the person behind the counter “Yeah, I’ll have a…” Oh, you will, will you? Hang up the cell phone, make eye contact with the person trying to help you, and ask them how their day is going before you start making any requests.
Like this: “How are you today.” (Stop. Wait for response. Genuinely listen and care about what is said. Respond appropriately. Then…) “Would you please give me a…”
I don’t go out to eat with friends who are stingy with tips or rude to wait staff, and sadly, a lot of people that I would otherwise respect fall into that category. It is not only embarrassing to keep such company, but I find that people get the service that they set themselves up to expect. They treat the people around them like vending machines instead of people, and that is all they get in return. Sometimes, the answer to a request is “No. Sorry. That isn’t possible. Our policy.” As unhelpful as a broken mechanism can be.
Those “No way” answers turn into “Let me see what I can do for you,” for me. I’ve even had people explain to someone that the answer for them is no, but yes for me. I don’t think that I am special… I just treat other people as if they are, and that makes all the difference.
Simple, human courtesy and basic manners must be more rare than I realize, because everyone in the service industry seems to fall all over themselves trying to help me when I display these archaic behaviors. I used to know the names of the people who cleaned my office, and what was going on with them. And so, my office was always spotless. I asked about the children of the women who rang me up in the cafeteria, and so I had to insist that they charge me for everything on my tray, so that they wouldn’t get in trouble. I get treated like a VIP when I go to one of my regular spots, even if I haven’t been there in a long time. All because of this one weird trick…
Treat the people around you as if they matter to you, and don’t act as if you are more important than everyone else. A little demonstrated humility and genuine friendliness goes a long way.