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June 18, 2008



The customer is always right, but no one ever should have to take abuse either. Nor should anyone ever be asked to behave like a doormat. In the end, clients won't be impressed by this approach, either.

I have found very clever assistance in such books as _The Gentle Art of Self Defense_. The essence of most of these strategies consists mainly of ways to deflect abuse back at the abuser rather than aggravate or add to it. It even helps to practice.


I must say that the title of the research article was chosen to get attention and invite differing viewpoints. I don't believe that smiling in and of itself is detrimental to one's health. Being forced to negate your own feelings and act as if you feel another way IS. In this report the researcher admitted "Every time a person is forced to repress his true feelings there are negative consequences."

This study also took place in a call center, the type of job that at least in the U.S. typically has a very high turnover rate. No doubt! Being forced to take insult and abuse should not be part of a person's job, even in a call center.

You offer great insight regarding this article. We don't need to repress our feelings when challenged. Instead we can kick into creative-solution-finding mode. I don't necessarily think that the customer is always "right", but I definitely believe that trying to make customers happy and pleased with one's products/services is of the utmost importance. Most companies are market-driven, meaning customers are in the drivers seats.

Meg Bear

from my customer support days I remember being taught that when faced with a difficult customer it is best to put both feet on the floor. Somehow that helps you feel confident while *taking it* and makes you less inclined to "talk back". I would venture to guess though that the mute button is the savior for most in the call center which provides a win/win for all involved, unless, of course, you get confused as to when you are on mute ;-)

Jackie Cameron

I had reason to call my cell phone provider this morning as my handset developed a mysterious fault overnight. The young man who answered gave me the impression that he was quite new to this. He told me I had not registered the handset so they could not replace it. I have been a customer of this company for many years and expected better but I just asked what I could do to resolve the problem. To his credit he went off to find out - and came back to tell me how to circumvent the company "rules" so that we were both happy. Early morning call, unhappy and confused customer at the other end, bad message to deliver - you would think it was a recipe for disaster but a crisis in our relationship it has ( so far)been averted.
My point? Sometimes companies have rules that for reasons best known to them need to be enforced (see there's the root of that word force again)and some poor employee has to do it. How they respond is key to how they should be valued as employees.

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