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  1. #11
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Istbkleta View Post
    1. It seems perfectly logical to me. I don't understand what your concern is?

    2. What she says she wants might not be what she wants and yet a completely different thing might be needed to get rid of her. Which is the end goal here as stated by OP. Again I don't understand your concern.

    It appears you are deviating from the "How?" and going into "Is it wrong?". Is this correct?
    My concern is with someone pretending to be something they are not. Of course, the employee should be courteous, but I do not expect genuine caring, and have no patience with imitation emotions. PB's answer suggests that how the employee really feels is not important; it's how the customer feels. The employee's caring attitude is designed to calm the customer, and it apparently need not be genuine to have this effect.

    I am not asking about right and wrong, but rather about whether directly addressing the customer's emotions is effective, if so how and why, and what is the purpose anyway. To get the customer just to go away? Or to go away satisfied? Or to make sure the store policy is upheld? It might not be possible to meet all of these goals. At the end of the day, the store will either exchange the book or not exchange it, perhaps making some other offer like those mentioned. This all seems separate from anyone's emotions. The final decision shouldn't depend on whether the customer is considerate or a real jerk; either she has a legitimate reason to exchange the book, or not.

    I can speak only for myself, but when I go into a store, I know what I want, and would find someone's suggestion that I do not rather insulting. If store (or online) employees try to "make me feel better" with emotional talk, I tell them it is beside the point. I am there to get a problem resolved: what kind of accommodation can we reach? I suppose other people just approach these situations differently, warranting different responses.

    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceBaby View Post
    My approach above is one if you adhere to the policy. For very difficult people, you would have to consider the pros and cons of bending the policy in order to ultimately, have a happy customer.
    Wouldn't it make more sense to make an exception to the policy for someone with a good reason, rather than for someone just being difficult?
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  2. #12
    You have a choice! 21%'s Avatar
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    First of all, thanks everyone for all your responses! You made me feel a lot better!

    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceBaby View Post
    You have a no-returns policy, and I agree it's important to adhere to it in principle. Too many people buy music, reproduce it and try to take it back.

    What would be beneficial here is what I call the "alternative reflection" technique. Basically, you defuse the emotional frustration by validating the emotions and providing a peace-offering as a salve to the wound.

    (Trust me, someone who is complaining about $1.50 has more issues going on than getting the right music book.)

    Here is what you say. "Ma'am, I appreciate your frustration. If I was in your shoes and thought my son had received the wrong book, I would feel angry about that too. Now, since both books are perfect for his examination preparation, and I can't take the 2009 back, I can provide you with either a 25% discount on the 2011 book, or we would be happy to refund you the $1.50 difference between the two. Which would work better for you?" Use whatever either / or choice works best according to your store's policies. And, you have to address the emotions or they won't be buffered, you have to seem to care about her genuinely, with your tone, body language and facial expression.

    Just imagine it was you, upset about something legitimate, even not being totally rational. If you are received with calm, you can regain calm.

    Now, if you are delivering this on the phone, you have to infuse your voice with the appropriate amount of empathy. If you are in person, you have to let her anger flow past you and just emanate concern for her, not bristling at her demands, stay cool, stay sympathetic. It's a challenging thing, but good luck. Let us know how it goes.
    Wow, thanks PB! Great advice! Normally I really want to help people, but if they get nasty I will lose any interest to help them. I take care not to be mean to people even when I'm having a bad day, and I get very upset when I see people taking it out on waiters, etc. I know I should cut people some slack, because deep down everyone is just a scared, miserable soul, but sometimes I just don't get it why people can't be nice to each other!

    Before we go on I'd like to offer a bit more information to add to the complexity of the situation:

    1) The 2009 book was published for the 2009 (current) music syllabus. The 2011 book was published to correspond to the new syllabus, which won't be in effect until next year. This lady's son was taking his exam this year (current syllabus), and so I think that's why my colleague gave her the 2009 book. However, the parameters of the test will stay the same for the new syllabus, and this makes the two exercise books interchangeable. You just get 30 different exercises in each book. Most people buy both books, to get more exercises to practice. @CrystalViolet, the books cost $15.00 and $13.50. The 2009 one has 'teaching guide' sections in it, but the 2011 one only has the exercises. I tried to explain this to her and she still felt cheated because the 2011 one was 'newer' and 'cheaper'.

    2) To make it more complicated, the 'manager' is my mom -__-, and she said no refund, no exchange, and, no, she won't speak to the customer and I should deal with it. She's an ISFJ and normally she goes out of her way to help people, if they ask nicely -- but she sees this as abuse and thinks the customer is trying to take advantage of us.

    @kyuuei, I personally would have done something like what you said. In this case, I think my colleague should have explained it to her better, to make sure she got what she wanted. But then again, she didn't really know what she was buying and only afterward found out that her son's teacher wanted a different book.


    Development: I called her to say that we were unable to exchange the book, but we were willing to give her a special discount for the 2011 book if she wanted it. Additionally, I was happy to call her son's teacher to explain (because I believe the teacher got it wrong in the first place and told her she needed the new book). But, when I told her who I was she hung up on me. Not sure if it was intentional or not, but I'm not sure if I should call again?
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  3. #13
    You have a choice! 21%'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    My concern is with someone pretending to be something they are not. Of course, the employee should be courteous, but I do not expect genuine caring, and have no patience with imitation emotions. PB's answer suggests that how the employee really feels is not important; it's how the customer feels. The employee's caring attitude is designed to calm the customer, and it apparently need not be genuine to have this effect.

    I am not asking about right and wrong, but rather about whether directly addressing the customer's emotions is effective, if so how and why, and what is the purpose anyway. To get the customer just to go away? Or to go away satisfied? Or to make sure the store policy is upheld? It might not be possible to meet all of these goals. At the end of the day, the store will either exchange the book or not exchange it, perhaps making some other offer like those mentioned. This all seems separate from anyone's emotions. The final decision shouldn't depend on whether the customer is considerate or a real jerk; either she has a legitimate reason to exchange the book, or not.

    I can speak only for myself, but when I go into a store, I know what I want, and would find someone's suggestion that I do not rather insulting. If store (or online) employees try to "make me feel better" with emotional talk, I tell them it is beside the point. I am there to get a problem resolved: what kind of accommodation can we reach? I suppose other people just approach these situations differently, warranting different responses.


    Wouldn't it make more sense to make an exception to the policy for someone with a good reason, rather than for someone just being difficult?
    I totally understand your point. The main reason why I needed help on this issue was exactly because I didn't know if she had a good reason to try to return the book or not. I didn't know what happened when she purchased the book. She said she was given wrong information and was told that the book she purchased was the latest book (which I am quite sure did not happen -- if she had said that my colleague would have given her the newer book). To me, it seemed like it was partly the customer's fault for not knowing what to get (and after realizing the mistake, trying to put the blame entirely on the store) and partly my colleague's fault for not making sure.

    You're a thinker, so you might find the emotional approach rather strange, but it really works. Not everyone is rational, and those who feel the need to threaten and yell at salespeople are probably the least rational of them all. Sometimes people fuss not because they want results, but just because they feel wronged and want to be heard.
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  4. #14
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Regarding the whole "is it wrong to not always be completely sincere about caring about the customer" - try working in a department where all you do is deal with complaints, as I have done, and see if you can care deeply all the time. I do not believe that it's possible.

    Putting myself in their place certainly helped, but especially if someone was rude and semi-abusive, sometimes I wanted to scream at them and hang up - but that would have done them no good. So I pretended to care, and remained professional. It worked pretty well.

    People in those situation often do need to be presented with what at least appears to be a caring attitude. It calms them down. I've had a lot of people thank me for my calm demeanour under such circumstances.
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  5. #15
    reborn PeaceBaby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    My concern is with someone pretending to be something they are not. Of course, the employee should be courteous, but I do not expect genuine caring, and have no patience with imitation emotions. PB's answer suggests that how the employee really feels is not important; it's how the customer feels. The employee's caring attitude is designed to calm the customer, and it apparently need not be genuine to have this effect.
    Hmmm....... It's not about pretending to be what you are not. It is rising to the occasion of what's necessary in the moment. I have a set of tools that can help me accomplish this, so I use them, because there's a genuine place in me that values people, and wants to help people, but that doesn't mean I have mad love for each person I help. I help them because I have a global value in place.

    Think about it: is how I feel to you important, if you are all strident and upset in a customer service situation? I sincerely doubt it. No, the person being waited on generally cares not at all on the effect they are having on anyone else. They just want what they want. My interior state is irrelevant to the moment, because inside I am not all cool and calm and happy. My heart is pounding and I feel stressed because the emotions of the person I am helping are spilling out all over the place and having a physiological and emotional impact on me. What is relevant is how I can handle myself in a stressful situation and do my job.

    At the horrible foundation of the worst situations, I suppose, I help them in order to help save myself from having to be the recipient of their ill-managed emotional state.

    But most people are not so unreasonable, most just need to know you will meet them in their space and help solve their problem. That can be a very pleasant situation to be in, actually.

    Also, I would suggest you would have little to no clue if I was offering you genuine caring or the "best facsimile of caring" I could render in the moment. And in fact, since I do care about people, the core of my motivation is fueled by a genuine caring ANYWAY. SO, does it really matter if, in that moment, I am "faking it 'til I make it"? If I can't deliver on a good customer service experience, after all, I could lose my job. You won't know the difference, and the motivation for it is genuine.

    Perhaps this disturbs you because you feel somewhat vulnerable there, discerning in the moment.

    I am not asking about right and wrong, but rather about whether directly addressing the customer's emotions is effective, if so how and why, and what is the purpose anyway. To get the customer just to go away? Or to go away satisfied? Or to make sure the store policy is upheld? It might not be possible to meet all of these goals. At the end of the day, the store will either exchange the book or not exchange it, perhaps making some other offer like those mentioned. This all seems separate from anyone's emotions. The final decision shouldn't depend on whether the customer is considerate or a real jerk; either she has a legitimate reason to exchange the book, or not.


    I don't know if I can explain all this, it's very complex. It's like a dance, where you adjust to each person, dependent on all the vibes you get from them. Some people just need an explanation. Some need their emotions managed. Some need to feel superior, to be "right" and thrust that in your face. It's all very different, depending on the person. It's not about making the customer go away, and it's not just about getting jerks out of your face. Concessions are made contingent on people and circumstances, emotional or rational.

    I can speak only for myself, but when I go into a store, I know what I want, and would find someone's suggestion that I do not rather insulting. If store (or online) employees try to "make me feel better" with emotional talk, I tell them it is beside the point. I am there to get a problem resolved: what kind of accommodation can we reach? I suppose other people just approach these situations differently, warranting different responses.
    If you were the woman and came back to the store wondering why you got the 2009, the explanation would have satisfied you. Especially with the extra info 21% provided above. You are not this angry woman though, so how can you relate to her?

    Wouldn't it make more sense to make an exception to the policy for someone with a good reason, rather than for someone just being difficult?
    Again, if you had a rational reason why you should be an exception, most people would be able to hear it. HOWEVER, you know that old saying, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease" - some people start off ranting and raving because that's how they think they will get what they want. It's almost like a game. So you have to deal with that part first, with all the conciliation expected of the moment, and then get to the nitty gritty of the problem.

    I don't know if this helps you understand better, but ask if anything is still a puzzle.
    "Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one."
    Eleanor Roosevelt


    "When people see some things as beautiful,
    other things become ugly.
    When people see some things as good,
    other things become bad."
    Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

  6. #16
    Senior Member Santosha's Avatar
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    I was posting on this last night when the forum went down. I still wanted to put in my two cents. As an NF, I've worked a with wide range of people for 14 years now. I've done alot of jobs that would be difficult for any NF to do. I've worked for alot of financial institutions and repoed cars, forclosed on homes, I've worked for airlines, and I've also worked some human services positions and with the disabled. I've come to know right off which people want to be validated and helped, and which people don't care about it and want their own way. THis woman sounds like a want her own way, no matter. I started calling it east-coast syndrome while working for airlines. THese people have been taught their entire life that if they kick and scream the loudest, they will get what they want. Unfortunately, your business is in business to make money. THe policies it has in place are to ensure that. When you start breaking policies for one person, where do you draw the line? Most people are going to believe that they or their circumstance is the special exception. Furthermore, while your co-worker may have not done her absolute best, the responsibility of the customer getting what they want does lie on their own shoulders. If this customer had done her research before hand, when your co worker offered up the 2009 version the customer would have said "I know their is a 2011 out, do you have that?"

    Heres what I'd say to her "After discussing this issue with my supervisor I have been advised that there is nothing we can do about your circumstance, unfortunately. We have a very clearly defined and strict policy regarding no returns, and we feel that we must be fair to ALL of our customers by upholding our policies consistantly. I am sorry for any frusteration this has caused you, and we do appreciate your business and hope to see you again." At this point she is probably going to kick and sream some more. Give her a few more minutes with alot of "I understands." If she asks to speak with your manager let her know that you are "more than welcome to do that, but that you want her to understand that the answer will not change." IF you say this very professionally and politely MOST people will drop it. Now, she is not going to be happy. But she is not going to be happy unless you give her what she wants, and since your boss already said no, the power to do that is out of your hands. Do not feel bad when she goes away still upset. People like this are not all that interested in a rep giving them lots of empathy. Their sole purpose is to get what they want. Has she been polite and empathetic to you while kicking and screaming? I doubt it.

    Beyond upholding the business policy, I tell you that I personally feel an obligation to break the kicking and screaming mentality. This has occured because all her life other people have caved to get her out of their hair. It's bullshit and consumers need to be accountable.

    I worked in a follow up complaint department for one airline. What I found is that while many people get upset when they don't get what they want, a large majority of them STILL flew with our airline after the incident. It baffled me, but I later realized that it was because we are a good business that provides a high quality service and product for very competitive rates. If you know you are running a good business then you have nothing to fear by sticking to your policies. Most customers WILL return.

    Anyhow, I know this sounds cruel and "Non NF-ish". However, I can tell you that when I have worked with very decent people that were truly screwed over by a business I have come close to losing my job to help them out and 'do the right thing.' One time I flew a guy from LA to JFK for free to see his Dr. because he was on his 4th round of chemo treatement and told me that morning when he woke up to take a shower he felt all his skin sloff off him like a pair of pants falling to his ankles. You have to really pick and choose who your going to bend for and who not. If you bend for this lady over a buck fifty, it diminishes your ability to bend when someone really needs it. When my reports were pulled and it showed I let this guy fly for free, I was NOT fired because my employer knows that I have a proven track record of upholding policy. If I had done it for every person that has a special circumstance I would have lost my job loong ago.
    Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun - Watts

  7. #17
    mod love baby... Lady_X's Avatar
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    screw her...can't stand pushy hostile customers...they just think they can bark at people to get their way. i always relish the opportunity to show em that shit does not work for me....not just customers...anyone really. i can be sweet as can be and bend over backwards to help people when they go about it in a pleasant way...everyone else should be retrained!
    There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.
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  8. #18
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 21% View Post
    You're a thinker, so you might find the emotional approach rather strange, but it really works. Not everyone is rational, and those who feel the need to threaten and yell at salespeople are probably the least rational of them all. Sometimes people fuss not because they want results, but just because they feel wronged and want to be heard.
    Sounds like what you are saying is essentially "different strokes for different folks". Of course I accept that that's how it works; the empirical evidence is indisputable. It is just hard to see it from the other perspective, since I myself find this approach confusing and inefficient.

    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    Regarding the whole "is it wrong to not always be completely sincere about caring about the customer" - try working in a department where all you do is deal with complaints, as I have done, and see if you can care deeply all the time. I do not believe that it's possible.
    I am not expecting the employees to care deeply about the customers all the time. Just the opposite: I would not expect them to care specifically at all. I consider it enough to show basic courtesy and professionalism. This is more impersonal, and easier to sustain especially on frustrating days.

    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceBaby View Post
    Think about it: is how I feel to you important, if you are all strident and upset in a customer service situation? I sincerely doubt it. No, the person being waited on generally cares not at all on the effect they are having on anyone else. They just want what they want. My interior state is irrelevant to the moment, because inside I am not all cool and calm and happy. My heart is pounding and I feel stressed because the emotions of the person I am helping are spilling out all over the place and having a physiological and emotional impact on me. What is relevant is how I can handle myself in a stressful situation and do my job.

    Also, I would suggest you would have little to no clue if I was offering you genuine caring or the "best facsimile of caring" I could render in the moment. And in fact, since I do care about people, the core of my motivation is fueled by a genuine caring ANYWAY. SO, does it really matter if, in that moment, I am "faking it 'til I make it"? If I can't deliver on a good customer service experience, after all, I could lose my job. You won't know the difference, and the motivation for it is genuine.

    Perhaps this disturbs you because you feel somewhat vulnerable there, discerning in the moment.
    Actually, I do think about the store employee when I as a customer am in an encounter that might become confrontational, though not in terms of feelings so much as of capability. Does this person have the ability or authority to give me what I want? I often tell them something like, "I realize this is not your fault/there is nothing you can do about it, but can you tell me who might be able to help/can you call your manager?"

    You are right that I might not be able to distinguish real from imitation caring. It is why I often distrust what looks like caring in people I don't know well. I see no reason why they should care, they are just doing their job. Whether real or fake, though, I am put off by demonstrations of caring or other directed emotions during business transactions as in stores. They seem out of place, beside the point. For me, they add nothing to the experience except requiring more time and energy from me to complete. (Different strokes again.)

    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceBaby View Post
    If you were the woman and came back to the store wondering why you got the 2009, the explanation would have satisfied you. Especially with the extra info 21% provided above. You are not this angry woman though, so how can you relate to her?
    I cannot relate to her handling of the situation, as I do not become loud or abusive. That is unproductive and can only hurt my case. My approach is to focus on the facts, to identify what is keeping the employee from giving me what I want, then to take whatever action is within my control to change or override that.

  9. #19
    Senior Member Tiltyred's Avatar
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    I like Huxley's technique. The only thing I would change is if she asked to speak to the manager, to say that you spoke to the manager on her behalf and were advised that you could not make the exchange. And to continued rants, I'd say I hear your frustration but I'm afraid it's not negotiable. That you hope her son does well, and the 2011 is still available at the store if she'd like to purchase it.

    Don't call her back.

    Also I find tone of voice really matters. You'd want to maintain calm, cool, and pleasant in your voice.

  10. #20
    Senior Member INTP's Avatar
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    I would start asking her if she knows why its so hard for her to realize that there isnt any sort of return policy and tell her that if she wasnt being such a bitch i would had tried to bend the rules for her, but now i dont care to try anymore.

    Guess why im not in this type of work

    My friend works in some supermarket and i hear horror stories about retard customers so much that i simply couldnt handle people that stupid and so often..
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