Tag Archives: Customer

Five Types of Customers I Think We’re All Trying To Avoid

18 Dec

There’s an outlandish volume of effort put in to creating incredible customer service nowadays through online resources, books, and presentations (in addition to countless other avenues) and I totally agree with it. I love the state of customer service and the energy companies put in to create an awesome experience for their clients. You can return anything anywhere for any reason.

You still can't however, return a punch by Chuck Norris.

The flip-side of the improved emphasis on service is that there’s a growing number of customers who are turning into, or have always been, absolute tools. They believe being a customer excludes them from being respectful or having empathy for what it means to work in the service or retail industry.

Here are five ways you can be just like them:

1. I’d like to murder your business through the power of the internet.

There’s something special about the anonymity of the net that puts us all in a position where we feel we can say things we’d normally be too embarrassed or tactful to say in public (see: my blog). Take this stooge:

Let's tar and feather this guy.

So… Let me break this down. In the 5 years you’ve been going to the restaurant you’ve never bothered to take the time to write a positive review. Now that you’ve had a negative experience you wanted to show the world what a #%*$ing turncoat you are by creating a writeup representing exactly 1% of your experiences with said restaurant? How could you possibly come to the conclusion that the restaurant has “lost its sense of professionalism” and let its success get to its head based on tasting some warm soup? That’s like me making the assumption that you’re a pretentious twit based on this one lonely post. Except that I’d be right.

And your dog looks ridiculous.

Review sites are a great place to let others know about your experiences. Just remember that businesses (especially new ones) depend on your reviews to bring in new customers. So be fair. Don’t be like Chihuahua guy and reserve your posts exclusively for bad experiences.

2. I don’t think servers should be allowed to vote.

For some reason, certain people hear the word “server” and think “servant”. Just because someone is getting paid minimum wage to bring you a plate of ham doesn’t mean you’ve been given the green light to treat them like sub-citizen trash.

And I want you to cover my character flaws with extra cheese!!!

These customers get heated so quickly that it’s hard to understand how the Judicial System still lets them out of their homes. I’ve had plenty of experiences with customers who feel that it’s perfectly acceptable to begin yelling and swearing at an employee because of some unforeseen circumstance like a long line. Most people handle small inconveniences with a shrug and a sigh, but because they’ve been raised by wolves the only thing this customer knows how to do is bark and foam at the mouth.

Hey man, don't put that on us. We raised her right.

It’s not that you can’t get frustrated or complain, just do it in a constructive way that keeps the intention of the conversation in mind: To solve the problem, not to make the guy that has to deal with you for $7.00 an hour feel like crying.

And on a side note, learn how to tip. I know it’s not a mandatory charge, but it’s the voluntary tax we all pay for being waited on and served outside of our homes.

3. I’m not sure what was wrong but I’d like my money back. No, I don’t have any left.

There are customers out there who want to avoid any aspect of responsibility created by a purchase. Just three days ago, I was at a hole in the wall restaurant at a small airport in Oregon. I wasn’t too hungry, so I figured I’d order something small from the menu to share with my wife. Most everything on the menu was standard fare, burgers and fries, but I ordered the calamari.

I know, it looks delicious.

It was pretty bad, but what would possibly compel me to order calamari at a burger joint in the first place? It was a bad call on my part. You know what I didn’t do? Send it back. Why? Because I took responsibility for my ridiculous decision. I had a few more bites and let it go. We ended up ordering a slice of apple pie with ice cream, which by the way, was scrumptious.

So scrumptious.

Some customers lack the responsibility trait. I used to work at a cake shop and have had customers return their birthday cake with one slice left (and often no cake left) with an ambiguous statement like, “Too much flavor.” or “It was difficult to cut.” Because the company I worked for was awesome, we took care of them. There were definitely customers with valid issues, but occasionally it was just some clown trying to save 50% on the purchase price. “So, no one liked the cake, but you didn’t realize it until you were 24 slices in?”

Actually, it was Murphy who first pointed it out.

C’mon guys. Valid complaints help businesses improve and it’s always appreciated when customers have that intention. But some of you are thieves.

4. I know you’re required to be cordial and respectful since I’m the customer. Can I ask you a subtly inappropriate question about your life?

My wife worked as a server for a while at a restaurant in Vegas when she first moved to the United States. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management and has studied in England for about a year where she perfected her English (She’s originally from Ecuador). Despite being very well-spoken, she still has an adorable accent.

Most common question asked by customers?

“So how did you get into the states?”

And they asked it in a semi-whisper. You know. In case immigration was listening in.

Which they were.

I appreciate that people were truly interested in my wife’s history and were trying to engage her in some pleasant conversation. I just wish they had some tact. It’s uncomfortable enough responding that she’s happily married to a US citizen, could you imagine if she were actually here illegally? How could she possibly respond to that question?

I arrived via a plethora of piñatas.

Customers know servers are required to be cordial, so for some reason some believe that this is a good opportunity to ask questions that would be otherwise considered completely inappropriate. “Oh, you graduated with a degree in accounting? What are you doing serving then?”

Calculating how to ruin your day I guess.

Remember that just because someone is being paid to listen to your order, doesn’t mean that you should fill their ear with questions that are best suited to a counselor’s office. They have to act professional despite inquiries that make them uncomfortable, so don’t misinterpret polite laughter as an invitation to keep digging.

5. Wait wait… But it says one per customer. My 2-year-old daughter is making a separate purchase.

One of my least favorite class of dangerous customers are those that study the restrictions on a coupon with the intensity of Surya Rakta Chaitra.

Yeah, this guy.

You know those coupons you get sent via email that are something simple like “25% Off Your Purchase” and then have restrictions that are two pages long? You have this customer to thank.

I used to do marketing for a small local business. When I started, the stipulations were two sentences long, mostly “Some restrictions may apply.” and “Limit one per customer.” I quickly learned how to adjust to a class of person that is constantly trying to validate their attempts at cunning piracy. This is the same customer who walks out the door and back in to take advantage of the “one per purchase” statement. I know, you’ve found a loophole. It’s still cheating.

Nope, still you.

There are some pretty silly restrictions out there, and some are meant to misrepresent the value of the offer. Most however, are just trying to avoid getting taken advantage of by these guys. It might be true that you can interpret it to support your argument, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re trying to defraud an honest business.

I absolutely love customers, they’re the only reason businesses exist and the vast majority are absolutely awesome to deal with. As a fellow consumer, I try to be the kind of customer I would want to deal with, and it embarrasses me when I’m around patrons that have yet to learn how to deal with other humans in the client-server capacity. Those of us around them should really take a moment to remind them of the golden rule.

And here's a picture of Denzel Washington.

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Three Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Health Insurance

1 Dec

My experience with Health Insurance companies for the last five years has been mildly benevolent, in that I made sure to pay them X amount a month and they made sure I was covered if my feet fell off. Things went decidedly south about 6 months ago when I decided to, god forbid, move.

Stern Looking Doctor
“Perhaps you shouldn’t have moved to Oregon, hippie.”

I’ve learned a lot of crappy things about the Health Insurance Industry in the last few months, and I feel like a lot of it was avoidable if I had known just a few key pieces of information before making some health related decisions. I’d like to share those lessons with you now so you can dodge some of these complications and headaches in your future dealings with the Healthcare system.

1. Health Insurance Companies Want to Eat Your Family.

After moving, I called my insurance broker and let her know my new address in Oregon. She went ahead and did her magic, and a month later I received my bill. Surprise (was it though?), my new premium for my wife and I just about doubled from $270 to $499.96 per month. I wanted to make sure my new donations were going to a good cause (like paying for the CEO’s stripper mistresses) so I called their customer service to find out what the deal was.

Turns out I was now out of network, so my premiums went up accordingly.

Customer Service Woman
I’d love to help you, but I’m kind of busy with my modeling career.

That would make sense, except that the quality of my plan went in the other direction (down). Since I was out of network, the percentages the insurance company contribute towards my expenses dropped from 80% to 25%. The 75% I was contributing was now going towards a deductible that had also doubled from $1500 to $3000.

In all fairness, all the info’s right there in the 60 page document they gave me when I signed up. I should have chosen to be a bit more curious and it’s all pretty standard operating procedure stuff for health insurance companies.

Piles of Paperwork - Lots of work
It was filed alphabetically between “Screw” and “You”.

Fine right? No worries, just switch your insurance to a company that considers Oregon in-network… This leads us to lesson 2:

2. Don’t You Ever, As Long As You Live, Switch Insurance Companies.

Remember that one time you went to the doctor to get that insignificant thing checked out? I know, it wasn’t a big deal, but you’re going to have to include it on the application.

Remember that application for coverage you just sent in? Yeah, it got rejected because of that thing.

Last August, I ruptured my eardrum while Scuba Diving (because I make terrible decisions). I went to the doctor so that he could verify that I was an idiot, and then I was all done because this is an injury that heals all by itself like a cut. While we were there, we decided to check out an issue my wife was having which was some blockage in her salivary duct. I know, way too much info. There’s a reason I’m telling you though. The doctor suggested we get a CT scan to pinpoint exactly what’s going on, and then we went on our merry way.

Like the honest folks we are, we mentioned both events on our application to ODS with some assurance from our broker that he never sees anyone get rejected for such small issues.

We were both promptly rejected for coverage.

What blows me away, is that my wife is 26 and I’m 28, we’re both in good health (we stay fit, we don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t eat fast food, don’t have any chronic conditions), and we’re honest on our applications for coverage. What is the health insurance company looking for? I was rejected for a condition that was completely resolved.

Doctor looking in an ear
“I think I left my daughter’s tuition payment in there…”

We appealed the decision. I had to go back to the doctor so that he could verify that everything was fine with my ear (4 months after the accident) and I typed a 4 page document attached to the doctor’s chart notes to try and let the insurance company know that my ear was fine, and that my wife’s issue was a minor annoyance that occurred maybe twice a year.

They accepted me and rejected my wife.

We’re now going with the statewide insurance plan for my 26 year old healthy wife because ODS is not willing to cover her. This is the Oregon plan that is the failsafe for residents who cannot otherwise get health insurance.

We’re now in a bad position because we wanted to check out a minor concern with a preventative mindset (and we were already at the ENT Doctor) when we would’ve been better served just ignoring it.

This leads me to point 3…

3. Don’t Ever Tell the Truth About Anything, Ever.

Seriously. If there’s one take away from any of this, remember that everything you tell your doctor will get marked down forever on your chart notes. Some day, if you even get individual health insurance, when you’re arguing with the company about your claim, they’ll point to it and say you never told them, or alternatively, that it was a preexisting condition. So don’t tell anyone, anything, ever.

Black and white photo of dr. dre
Just don’t lie to this Dr.

I don’t actually know too much about the current state of the health care system, but I don’t think I ever realized how crippling the system is until I finally had to deal with a different side of it. I’ve always been healthy, employed, and stable, so this was never (selfishly) a concern to me. One of those things changed, so now I’m in a different boat. I’m very lucky that I have a variety of resources and a bit of income and savings to handle the complications, but I can only imagine how difficult this must be for someone in a different situation. How broken is a system when young healthy people can’t even get affordable health insurance?

My wife and I are incredibly lucky to be physically sound and capable, so I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for us. But I have no idea how people are dealing with similar situations who have actual problems that need actual care.

Clown Doctor - Humor
They go see this guy.

Knowing what I know now, I would be much more selective about what I would reveal to the health care system, which seems like a terrible solution to a ridiculous problem. I would rather risk my health by not getting something checked out than risk being denied in the future or seeing my rates jump astronomically.

Does that not sound crazy?

UPDATE (11/30/11 21:12): I’m incredibly blown away (sorry I keep using that phrase) by all of the comments! I’ve been a bit frustrated with my experience so far, but it’s certainly far more interesting to hear that it’s a commonly felt sentiment. And sad. Mostly sad.

It’s pretty striking that for such a developed country, we still have a healthcare system that seems to function pretty terribly, evidenced more by the disposition of the responses rather than the statistics you can find here or there. Originally, the post was meant to be a satirical look at what felt like a ridiculous situation, but I’m quickly finding that this story is hitting home for a ton of people, which again, blows me away. And again, feels pretty sad.

I started out trying to reply individually, but I’m quickly realizing that it’s a losing battle. Thank you so much for all the responses and I really appreciate everyone taking the time to read my blog, which I know is one of… Billions? I know there’s a lot of them, so I appreciate you spending some of your reading time with me. If you’d like to do it again sometime, please feel free to hit the follow button up top. Or alternatively, follow me on twitter, @MacsJF. (My apologies for the shameless self-promotion).

Thanks again!

-Max