Yesterday I went to the gym and got a vivid reminder for how bad support can feel like and why it might happen. It’s almost 2019, so I’m making this little lesson into our New Year’s Resolution.
I’m a little heavy (95Kg) and after an hour of jogging, I lose around 1.5 litters. If you’re training you’ll know that when you’re that thirsty, your patience and friendliness drops. A lot.
You know how your mind looks forward to a “nice thing” that’s coming? During the last 10 minutes of my workout, I visualized myself heading for the cooler and gulping down bottle after bottle. Finally, it’s time. The machine beeps to announce the end and I drag myself happily to the water.
I place my bottle under the dispenser, press the button and notice that something is different today. The machine starts vibrating and spouts out water like it’s sneezing. I bring up the bottle to my lips and notice that it’s brown. Maybe it’s the color of my bottle? So I let it run a little and realize that I’m about to drink mud or rust or whatever else came from the cooler.
That’s disappointing, to say the least.
Then, I notice a technician heading into the restrooms and opening all the taps. This can’t be a coincidence. I ask him what’s wrong and he explains that the city has closed the water supply for a few minutes and when it opened it again, all this dirt appeared in the pipes. The solution is to run the water and flush out the dirt.
Now I’m a little. “They” knew about the problem and didn’t bother warning me that the cooler is dispensing sewer water.
I go the manager’s office to complain. I’m exhausted, sweaty and super thirsty. I have better moments, but this is me right now. I tell her that they should have posted a sign which explains the water situation and not letting customers find out themselves.
The gym manager and the marketing manager who share the office aren’t pleased with me. They reply that I’m being aggressive and that they’re tired of dealing with abusive customers. They’re handling it and I should leave their office. The manager also explains to me that instead of complaining, I could drink from the machine near “studio 4” (I have no idea where “studio 4” is and that there’s another machine there. Does it feed off a separate pipe?).
I went up to the supermarket, that’s 50 meters from the gym and got myself two 1.5L bottles of clean water. I empty the first one right after the checkout and work on the second one as I return to the gym. Now I’m feeling a lot more like myself.
As I go back to get my stuff and head for the shower, I notice a girl who just finished her own workout. She filled her bottle from the cooler and is going to drink it. I’m curious so I look at the water and to my surprise, it’s the exact same brown as it was 20 minutes ago when I tried it. I give her a quick update and see her face turn from pink to bright red. She storms into the manager’s office. A minute later, the manager is finally out with a sign that explains the water situation and hangs it on the cooler.
Let’s try to learn from this, so we understand what exactly was wrong and how we could do better. Not only regarding water coolers, but whenever we request and give service.
What did I, the Customer, do Wrong?
I could have been a lot nicer, patient and less aggressive. I could have explained what’s bothering me (I’m thirsty and can’t drink from the water cooler) and ask for help (can you help me find drinking water?). I didn’t do that. I went and complained, explaining to the manager that I think that she’s not handling this little “crisis” well. Instead of getting her to help me, I got her to defend herself.
What did the Manager do Wrong?
The manager is a professional. She’s not exhausted, she’s not dehydrated and she’s not stressed. An excellent manager should see through the personal attack and understand that something is pressing the client. The client did not wake up today and decided to have fun by abusing us. The client has a problem, so let’s ignore how we just got attacked and understand what’s wrong. Then see how we could fix it as quickly as possible.
The fix here could be super simple:
- Put up a sign that says the water in the cooler is bad and not to drink from it
- Hop to the supermarket, get two 6-packs of water and place them next to the cooler
These two would have taken about 5 minutes and cost nothing. They would have showed all customers that the gym cares and they can trust it.
Our New Year’s Resolution
Stuff like this happens. We’re all human and we have our moments. We have to remember that we’re dealing with other humans and that they have their moments too.
I’m sending this post to everyone in OnTheGoSystems (developers, supporters, marketing, admin and management). Sometimes we need help from others and sometimes others need our help. We will do our very best to show more empathy and understand what’s pressing the person in front of us.
As developers, supporters and marketers, we all need to remember how it feels when others dismiss us. If we always keep that feeling in mind, we’ll do it a lot less to others.
We appreciate the business that our clients send our way and we never take it for granted. Happy new 2019 from OnTheGoSystems!