I had a bit of a weird moment a couple of weeks ago. Very modern. Very ridiculous. And I’m still trying to process the whole thing, mansplaining and all…
I work in customer support. I’ve been doing so for four years now. It’s an odd job. Sometimes I do hefty research for the customer. Sometimes I’m spitting back generic words I’ve written a thousand times. Often the customer is happy or even ecstatic at what we do for them.
And sometimes they’re pissed…
Their anger could be well deserved. They’re out of hard-earned cash and we can’t help them. We have a system or a policy that is making their day a bit harder. They’re frustrated, and I feel for them.
Other times the customer can just be a bona fide asshole.
And sometimes even they take that to the next level.
My Story of a Ruined Day
And I had one take things way over the top the other day. In fact, it ruined my day. It impacted my whole week! And this kind of garbage is not OK.
So what happened?
In a new part of my job (just a couple of weeks in), I was asked a question about a refund. Now, a few facts on the table: Whereas the customer did make an error, their mistake was tiny and understandable. And they totally deserved a refund.
And I let them know all of that, and I told them exactly what they needed to do. Like I was trained. They needed to contact Apple in order to get their refund. We had absolutely no way we could help them beyond pointing them in the right direction.
So I responded. My message was probably about 70% copied from our website. The rest was padding to comfort the client and to give the message the flair and pizazz our customers have come to enjoy. And, since I was new, my message was even approved by a supervisor before clicking send.
What followed next was the question repeated. In which case I calmly repeated the answer, apologizing and letting them know there only existed one route to getting what they needed.
And that’s when things got weird. And very twenty-first century weird.
The Twitter Rant that Changed Everything
The customer took to Twitter to whine and complain about how our company handled everything. He even repeatedly mentioned my name (first only, since that’s all I used in the communication). He put a screenshot of our email exchange.
Oh, but he took it a few steps further. He insulted the way my email was composed, referring to the happy-go-lucky manner I used as “childish”. And, and this part is very important: He accused me of mansplaining the situation to his wife.
What the Hell is Mansplaining?
Now, maybe someone out there can explain to me a little more about what mansplaining is. I’m a bit lost on the subject. I was under the impression that mansplaining had something to do with a man condescending to a woman, and explaining away his or other men’s toxic male behaviors in a way that dismisses the concerns and feelings of a woman.
However, in this guy’s view, it would appear I was mansplaining because I was male and I was writing to a woman.
Ladies and gentleman, we are in an odd time in history. I was not having an argument with my customer. I wasn’t even explaining a policy. I was gently telling the facts of the situation. Gender was on the highest levels of irrelevant.
And not only was I accused of mansplaining, but this was supposed to be a valid and strong argument. In this backwards generation, the guy just needs to toss out one of many million-dollar words, and my company and I need to back down and beg for forgiveness. I need to justify my behavior, probably look deep within myself to find out how I could have done things differently… even if I did absolutely nothing wrong.
When all the smoke clears, this piece of garbage ruined someone’s day. He wasted a lot of people’s time. And he accomplished nothing that he wouldn’t have accomplished just by waiting a couple of more days.
There are a few lessons to gain from this experience, really worthy of noting:
1) Don’t be this guy
Don’t be this guy.
You can be frustrated. You certainly have the right to be angry if the customer support you receive is lackluster. And there is a time and place for online scrutiny of a company.
But a vicious assault on a company and a person on Twitter just because the answer you received isn’t exactly the one you wanted is childish. It’s asinine.
You’re an adult. Act like one!A vicious assault on a company and a person on Twitter just because the answer you received isn't exactly the one you wanted is childish. Click To Tweet
2) Get some damn patience
Grow some patience.
If you’re told something might take a couple of days, then sit back and let people do their jobs. Don’t hop on your computer like a rabid bear and start ranting at the world.
This dude sent a request to Apple and went on a tirade less than 24 hours later. But his request was fulfilled completely in two or three days. Apple has a gazillion customers. Sir, you’re less important than you think you are. Sit back, drink your beer, watch the game, and let people do their jobs before you grab your computer and rant mindlessly.
3) Be nice to support
Not every company has great customer support. And not every support person is fantastic at his or her job. But one thing is for certain: Behind every call or email, there’s an actual person. Don’t treat them any less than you would others in your life. Be polite and say thank you. It can take you very far and it’s good for your soul.
Don’t be a jerk. You might ruin someone’s day. And if you’re unnecessarily nasty to someone who’s just doing his job, you might want to look deeper into yourself. You might not be the great person you think you are.
4) Stop hiding behind your keyboard
Finally, just because you can bash people hiding behind your keyboard, doesn’t mean you necessarily should. Or that you’re automatically in the right.
I understand the temptation, I really do. It’s great to feel like you have some sort of power, and no one is capable of harming you back. Like your safe behind that bulletproof computer screen of yours.
But you’re not safe, because you can hurt others. And it’s not OK to mindlessly shower the world with your ignorance.
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