Whatever our job we are all responsible for some kind of Customer Service. The way we treat people around us is the easiest way to show how professional we are. Whether they are customers, clients, co-workers, collaborators, bosses, or those we hope will become one or more of those categories, how we treat people matters.

Showing you are professional is far more important than telling people about it, and it is never more important than when things go wrong. So many people seem to avoid sharing any kind of bad news, when I think that’s the perfect opportunity to show who you, and your company really are. Let me share an example:

Last week the dog ate my glasses. I know that sounds like a schoolgirl excuse, but she really did. I’m guessing they fell on the floor at some point and she wondered if they were some new toy. I didn’t notice until I heard a strange snapping sound. There was no saving them. 

Of course I had to get new glasses. I went straight to the same place I had bought the now-chewed pair, I’d always been happy with their service. I ordered a pair and was told to expect them in about a week. A week came and went, so after 10 days of silence I called them. I was told very nicely that the lenses had come in on time, but had been scratched and so were sent back. I wasn’t happy – I understood, but I wasn’t happy that no one had told me.

Imagine if they had called me on the day all of this happened and explained the situation – I would have thanked them for their diligence and excellent service. I would have thought they were looking out for me and had excellent service. The silence was the problem, the fact that they avoided telling me what they perceived as bad news.

I know companies who do the same with failed interview candidates, hoping they just go away rather than contacting them with ‘bad’ news. I know stores that never follow up on customer complaints for fear of dealing with someone unhappy. There are businesses who delete negative comments on their Facebook pages rather than take the opportunity to make the person into a lifelong fan.

As you go about your work make sure you step up and make the difficult calls, have the difficult conversations, tell people news they might not be too happy with. Welcome the chance to learn how to solve problems and communicate effectively. It’s the perfect chance to show how professional you really are.

(This article was first published in The Daily Advertiser on Tuesday 20th March)