“The golden rule for every business man is this: Put yourself in your customer’s place.” – Orison Swett Marden
Wikipedia defines humility as “the self-restraint from excessive vanity, and can possess moral and/or ethical dimensions”. By this definition, it is obvious that humility in dealing with customers is an essential trait – without which customers would give your company ‘the boot’. Customers do not have the patience or inclination to deal with arrogance and feigned empathy – the slightest hint of any of these in customer service would be reason enough for them to leave. Being assertive, aggressive, and passionate are traits that any customer service teams would need but these traits should be from the humility required to serve customers in the best manner possible. Good customer service is quintessential to the success of a company and is required for both real world and virtual reality business irrespective of how well the company may be performing.
Businesses sure need effective strategies for dealing with customers – both those who love the company and those who may have begun to hate it. Customers are always right is a norm that is now blurring, as companies have come to realize that this thought process confuses their judgement and creates strife internally between employees and the management. What however, does not change is an attitude and mind-set of humility in dealing with customers. It would be tough to convince customers of care and empathy on the part of your company without being humble in all interactions. A lack of humility in dealing with customers will never allow a company and its representative to put themselves in the ‘customer’s place’ when trying to solve problems or find answers to questions. People, who are considered successful and are leading top companies, exhibit this quality for their customers along with other qualities like being accountable, passion, and an inclination towards service. The fact is that without humility, there would be conflicts daily between customers and company representatives – customer service is not an easy job with customers prone to anger and impatience. These ‘successful people’ understand the value of keeping customers and know that without them, there would be no business.
The business environment is not only fast-paced, but unrelentingly in a state of change. Customers are getting smarter, more informed, and hence more demanding – they are unlikely to stand arrogance or an attitude of pride from companies. They know the value of keeping customers on their side – and being humble is a small ask in comparison to the payoffs a company can get from happy customers. Company representatives, dealing directly with customers, must be coached on the benefits of being modest and kind with customers irrespective of the popularity of a company and its products. It costs nothing to be modest but this trait generates a lot of goodwill and support with customers – long-term.
Businesses and their representatives must practice being honest and straightforward with customers – these traits reflect trustworthiness and humility in accepting that customers are the reason their company exists. Keeping interactions simple and easy to understand is all about having the modesty to ensure that customers get the most of every interaction. Formulating easy to understand responses, shows them that your company is unwilling to load them with industry jargon or brag to customers about the extent of information and knowledge the company possesses. Know that humility in dealing with customers is all about clarity, simplicity, and the willingness to explain to a customer, even if repeatedly, as to the nature of the company’s services and product usage.
Clarity lets customers know that your company has nothing to hide and is humble enough to lay out things as they are. Genuineness always pays in any relationship and the one with your customers is certainly one that requires this trait in huge measure. Authentic companies would stick to their promises and deliver each time – they would not make excuses in case of lapses, but rather take ownership to ensure that every interaction with their customers is pleasant and memorable. There is therefore, a close relationship between genuine behaviour and humility in dealing with customers.
The debate of whether the customer is always right is accurate or wrong has been on for some time now. Even if your company understands that, the customer may have messed up, humility in dealing with them even in such situations demands that they are still treated with respect. They would need to know that the company still values them and their business – every employee must understand that even though customers may not always be right, the fact is that they are the reason the company exists. Even in tough situations, employees must maintain composure and display humility in dealing with customers. As we have mentioned several times, there will always be some customers unimpressed with a company’s service and will provide negative reactions. They would write bad reviews and let others know of their poor experiences – this is an inextricable part of business and customer service. It would be important for a company to take note of these gripes, without making them personal – ensuring humility in dealing with customers, even the angry ones.
Taking poor feedback personally will definitely elicit a defensive response, which in turn could aggravate customers even more, resulting in them leaving the company for good. Aggressive and impolite responses to customer ire are the opposite of humility while dealing with them. Every employee must have received training and coaching in dealing effectively with customers – not to believe that customers are always right, but that humility in dealing with customers is the way to build relationships, enhance market reputation, and make the company a ‘force to reckon with’. The fact is whatever your customers say is valuable feedback and should be used to improve whatever it is your company does. As Bill Gates put it: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning” and a company’s humility shows, in handling this learning with grace and finding value in it.
A company can never know how its products and service will be received, so when customers do open up and tell them, it is their duty to listen and take action – not be arrogant and smug about what they think they know. However, the fact is that a company will never always receive the kind of feedback that they may want to hear – it is bound to be negative and even bothersome at times – but this feedback when taken well can help a company improve significantly and give customers exactly what they want.
Humility in dealing with customers does not mean accepting abusive or dangerous behaviour and neither does it mean becoming servile. Instead, it means keeping an open mind and allowing your company and its employees to grow at a remarkable pace. This in turn would contribute immensely to the success of business and a widespread ‘adoration’ for your brand. Being humble is about putting customers first in every situation and to see things from their perspective – because finally it is they that will use the offerings and decide whether it works for them or not. Humility in dealing with customers is not that much of a tough ask – it just requires an open and growth mind-set to deal with situations in a practical manner and from an attitude of service.