Mutual respect is the key in consumer relations

Written by Rosa Colucci on .

I couldn't agree more with letter writer Roberta Saunier about some rudeness in society and the attitude of some customer service representatives ("Yes, a Problem," Dec. 20). I too have been extremely upset by the way I have been treated by someone I was doing business with. What I don't understand is why we should be bothered by the thought of a consumer thanking a sales clerk. There is no question that sales clerks (or any service provider) depend on consumers for their livelihood and should treat customers respectfully while meeting their needs. That fact does not entitle consumers to treat service providers with any less courtesy and respect. That's the simple golden rule that hasn't changed, even though it may be interpreted differently at times.

Every service provider and every customer has bad days. But the service provider is expected to rise to the occasion and achieve an impossible perfection when managing even nasty customers. We can say, "That's their job," but wouldn't it be nice if we all were more patient, empathetic and understanding? The customer may "always be right" from a service perspective, but every service provider and every customer should remember three basic guidelines, especially during these trying times and this hectic shopping season:

1. There are many reasons for a bad attitude or bad behavior, but there is never (never!) an excuse for either one.

2. Every person is dealing with a problem of some kind in his or her life and we would probably not want to switch places with anyone.

3. We cannot help the whole world, but we can help one person at a time by smiling, respecting, and thanking them ... whether we think they deserve it or not.

The writer is a customer service trainer and consultant.

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