Everything you need to know about customer service can be learned from a toddler and in one day. Seriously! There are jaw-dropping parallels between toddlers and your best customers. Here they are:
Crankiness. Look, customers are fickle creatures. They are going to chew you out if they get chewed out by their boss or their customers. Then, after they chew you out, you'll go chew someone else out (being the good samaritan that you are). You may notice that your customers are cranky when they're stressed out or in the middle of their busiest time of the year (Christmas in retail, summer for tourism etc).
Toddlers are no different. They are cranky when they need you the most. That's usually when they are hungry or sleepy. A toddler's brain 10 minutes before dinner or nap time runs just as well as a 4-year-old Apple product.
Deal with the cranky customer the way you do with your toddler. You can't tell your toddler off or abandon them in their time of need. Don't do that to your customer either! Understand their issue, pacify their problem, get them their mac and cheese and move on. Sure, these are some funny things you may really want to say to them, but bite your tongue. Keep doing it until you develop an ulcer. You'll know you're doing a good job then.
Destructive. Customers are weapons of mass destruction on your personal and professional life. You and I both know that they can call, email or phone whenever they want and, SLA be damned, if they contribute significantly to your livelihood you better answer. They don't care if you are at a funeral or at the altar. You've got pockets and a smartphone. They're Commissioner Gordon and you're Batman. Batman gave Gordon the bat signal (basically his cell #) for a reason. Customers will provide you a living, but they will own your life.
Toddlers are natural disasters clothed in the brand name apparel you starve yourself of. A toddler doesn't care if you are sick. They are awake, well fed and need a story read six times in a row... now. If you are fit to be breathing then you are fit to be serving. That means doing the job you willingly signed on for.
When you and your coworkers sit down and make a choice to have customers expect your life to change. They will be a source of joy, but they'll control whatever time you have. Much like kids do. Both are rewarding, but demanding. You can subcontract the customer management and parenting to your employees/subcontractors or a preschool/Montessori, but you're afraid. You're scared that an apathetic employee or indifferent teacher at this critical relationship development time in your toddler or customer lifecycle will scar your relationship for life. So make the deal with the devil. Sacrifice sleep, lunch, exercise and the movie theater all for the greater good of a better customer or toddler relationship.
Loyal. Customers hate change. They want to deal with you and only you. However, you're dead if you take their love for granted and betray their trust. Consider this, you're a customer to your providers and suppliers. You have your set and you want to keep them as long as possible provided they are doing the job and solving your problems. Your customers are the same. It's when the part about you solving their problems changes that they'll want change. Nobody throws away a good thing. Align your goals with your customer's goals. Show them that their business' success is your obsession too. Make your contract as much about them winning business as it is about performing specific tasks.
Your toddler is the same. A toddler will treat whatever you tell them as Gospel. They'll fight for you until the bitter end and you are their knight in shining armor solving all their problems. Betray their trust though and prepare yourself for an epic temper tantrum. That's why your child hates it when you play with other kids. They thought you had a non-compete signed with them. In blood no less and the buying cycle took at least nine months and probably involved a trip to the hospital.
Be as loyal to your customers as you are to your toddler. Have their back, solve their problems, remember their birthdays and shower them with gifts. They fill a void in your life even in those moments when they behave badly. It takes loyalty to get loyalty. A customer and a toddler bless you with an opportunity to serve them. It's a big job so don't screw it up.
You know your competitors and the bad kids at school won't.
Sajeel Qureshi is the VP of Operations at Computan. Computan is the back-end digital department for hundreds of businesses small and large and helps them generate leads and business opportunities. Sign up for a free hour of digital marketing support to help you get more leads.