“The squeaky wheel gets the grease”

We find ourselves on the wrong end of a bad customer interaction. Or at least we feel very strongly that we have been mistreated and done in by a staff member, or company. Before we look at the experience objectively, we have already created a deluge of adjectives to describe the poor level of customer service that we feel we have encountered. We take such pity on ourselves for the way that we have been treated and for the apparent blatant disregard for our feelings, the resources that we have used dealing with the offender and what is perceived to be, to the person on the receiving side of our hissy fit, the unimportance of our rants and skewed observations. Why is this so prevalent? The Philosopher, writer and diplomat Niccolo Machiavelli was very attuned to this aspect of his fellow man and stated something that seems to be intrinsic to our very nature, and that is that humans are a fickle bunch.

Complaints, abusive phone calls, emails and strongly worded social media posts seem to be the weapon of choice for individuals who feel that they have been hard done by. In the majority of these cases, if you were to look very deeply inside their cases, you will find that the customer has not really reviewed the service, product or process that they are complaining about properly and that they have no real grounds for their vitriolic comments and actions.

I feel truly sorry for the poor call centre consultants who take the abuse of people who call in and don’t really know why they are not getting certain results from the product or service in question. Edifying people on what it is that they have signed up for usually ends up in more abuse, as it just shows how ignorant people are to what they have. They will shift the blame and when they realize they are not getting anywhere they will continue their campaign of naming and shaming on other platforms. Now why do they go to such great lengths if they don’t think that they have a legitimate case of poor customer service you ask? I can only infer from a few experiences that I have had that the reasons are as follows:

Greed – Yes, Machiavelli also stated that people were generally greedy. What do they plan on getting out of this after all of their efforts? Improved product or service for other unsuspecting clients who might also go through the same “issue”? Do they want to champion the cause of the poor clients who are mistreated by big companies? Nope.

Ego – Telling someone that they are wrong, is bad enough, when you prove it to them, you make an instant enemy out of them. They have been proven wrong and their ignorance is now not only confined to their small sphere of influence, but also to the people who have to deal with the headache involved with addressing a pure waste of time. So yes their ego is at stake.

So these are my observations at a glance: The main reasons for the majority of scathing complaints are attempts to gain free products, services or unnecessary reimbursements. Added to this, is the notion that the person complaining has proven that they are right and that the service provider is wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating anything in this post, let alone accepting poor service, or faulty products. I am purely making a few observations which I hope will get people questioning the motives behind their actions. Is it unreasonable to ask yourself what the real reasons are for the action that you are about to take? Is the outcome that you are hoping for honourable, and in keeping with being constructive? Is the person that you are dealing with a representative of the company and if so, is it that person’s fault that you are not completely satisfied? If I had a rand for every time I heard the phrase “I am not going to accept this. I am going to take this further”, or “IT IS THE PRINCIPLE!!!” I would be well off and feeding that intrinsic need I discussed earlier on. What is this “principle” that people are so concerned about when they complain about something that shouldn’t be complained about? “It is not about the money, it is about the principle…”. Will these principled people accept a result that is going to rebuke their positions and result in no freebies? Let’s use complaints, constructive criticisms and observations of this nature for constructive, worthy causes. And all of you people who are fighting for the “Principle of it”, please consider all the variables before ruining a consultant’s day. Just remember that there is a poor unsuspecting person or people who are going to have to deal with your negative, sarcastic and totally unnecessary rants. Are we encouraging the rise of chronic complainers who make it a habit of complaining to procure special treatment? Are corporations spending extra time and money on keeping “squeaky wheels” greased, treating them like VIP’s to the detriment of the rest of the clients? I think so. But this is only an observation on my part.

On the other hand, is it too much to ask to channel some of that energy into compliments for those people or companies that are going beyond the call of duty? I would like to challenge you to recognize people or companies for great service. A short email or note goes a long way. Not only will it cement good habits, but it will really make a person’s day.


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