Learning to Consider Others

Image by DanaTentis from Pixabay

It’s amazing the customer service insights I gain from raising my kids. We recently moved to a new neighborhood and are thrilled to have multiple kids on our street, including some the same age as my oldest son. This means that our doorbell rings multiple times a day to see if he can play. Being a good introvert (like his dad), he’s often working on a project by himself and would be content to just do that.

Here’s how the progression goes so you can get a good picture in your head:

  • Friend rings doorbell
  • Dog loses mind
  • Son looks out the window and sees friend
  • Our son opens door
  • Son says, “I can’t play right now”
  • Son closes door
  • Parents look at each other dumbfounded
  • Parents tell son to go outside, talk to friend, and arrange time to play

Inconsiderate customer service

Have you had a similar experience when contacting a company? Sure you have.

Have you ever called customer service and the person answering the phone says, “Please hold” and puts you on hold? Or you explain your problem and their only response is, “Unfortunately, we can’t do that.” Period.

I recently got a call from my mechanic and without saying, “Hi Mr Watkin…” he said, “Whelp, your brakes are shot.” In a slightly passive aggressive manner I responded with, “Uh, who is this?” In retrospect I might have said something like, “I’m doing great! Thanks for asking.”

How can people be so inconsiderate? Do they not know that it’s important to offer a friendly greeting, provide a thorough explanation, and do everything they can to be helpful? Can they change?

Considering others is a learned skill

I can vividly remember a day I was walking with my mom and we came to set of glass doors. I proceeded to open the door, allowing it to close behind me. My mom, on the other side of the door at that point, was livid and made sure I never entered another room without at least offering to hold the door for the other person. Thankfully, that’s one lesson I learned on the first go around.

What I lacked here was consideration for another person, in the same way that my son lacked consideration for his friend when he slammed the door.

Rather than drawing this post out any further, I’ll summarize my thoughts on this topic:

  • Important customer service skills, like consideration for others, can be learned at an early age.
  • Bad habits can also be learned at an early age.
  • The later in life that you learn consideration for others, the more difficult it will be to hold down a people-facing job and maintain relationships.
  • We never stop learning and improving our consideration for others. Has someone ever called you out for a behavior and you were previously unaware of the impact?
  • Speaking of learning, these are often painful lessons to learn regardless of age.
  • Some people may innately be better at this but most people can improve to some degree.
  • In a customer service environment, we hire professionals with a high degree of consideration for others. A major function of training, coaching, and quality assurance is to help people continue to improve these skills.

Now I’m curious, where did you learn to consider others? How old were you and who taught you these skills? How have those lessons served you in your career in customer service? Leave us a comment below with your own insights on this topic.

Jeremy Watkin is a Product Marketing Manager at 8x8. He has more than 19 years of experience as a customer service professional leading high performing teams in the contact center. Jeremy has been recognized numerous times as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, and more. When not working you can typically find him spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis. Be sure to connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

One comment

  • Considering others is a skill I developed at an early age but I did not understand the impact of this skill until I became a mom of a child with significant challenges. Folks often choose to ignore our needs (and us) instead of choosing to bring us closer to understand our needs. When we experience that level of kindness and service we are customers for life. Kindness matters and creates loyal customers. I agree with Jeremy, it starts with the little things.

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