DIY

How do you deal with dumb?


The other day, a guy in front of me at the local convenience store asked the clerk for 10 dollars of regular gas on pump 87. Well, you guessed it; 87 was the octane rating. The clerk didn't blink. She just asked the guy to point out his car so she could punch in the right pump number. Not a smirk, not a snicker, not even the suggestion of a smile. Me, I might have had to have a little fun with it. I mean, not overt ridicule, but how do you let something like that slide by?

Well, according to Calvin Sun, tact is necessary in the face of customer blunders. As he points out in his article "Your customers could be smarter than you think," poking fun at clueless users doesn't really move you toward a solution or help build rapport. Not only that, the problem is often ours, not theirs. We rush to judgment (LOOO-zer), which prevents us from understanding what we're being told or detecting a nuance that would reveal that what the customer is saying isn't really stupid after all.

Well okay, sometimes, as with Mr. Octane, they ARE being stupid. A little. But either way, the burden of tact and problem resolution still sits squarely on our shoulders. A bit of compassion doesn't hurt, either, when customers are clearly doing their best to grasp a situation. If we can josh them through an embarrassing moment, so much the better. If we have to suppress our amusement and share our anecdotes among our peers, that's okay, too. Just as long as we don't forget our own (often spectacularly moronic) gaffes.

About

Jody Gilbert has been writing and editing technical articles for the past 25 years. She was part of the team that launched TechRepublic and is now senior editor for Tech Pro Research.

6 comments
SteveTheWirePuller
SteveTheWirePuller

Thank you for reminding us of common courtesy. Every interaction with another human being doesn't have to be all about money.

Absolutely
Absolutely

When being paid to provide a product or service, you are the one who might make a "blunder", not the [b]paying[/b] customer. When [b]you're paying me[/b] you may offer your opinion. When [b]I'm paying you[/b] you do your work, and do it correctly, without any backtalk. You have no complaints about that agreement, because [b]I do not impose on your time without paying you.[/b]

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Even if it is my choice to allow you to impose. Pay up! Now! Or, you could owe it to me rather than cheat me out of it...

OldER Mycroft
OldER Mycroft

"Eh, is this the right room for an argument?" "I'VE TOLD YOU ONCE!"

Absolutely
Absolutely

If you continue to labor under the misapprehension that you do so for me, the error, and the expense, are yours.

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