You Can’t Please Everyone And That’s OK

indexIn customer service, it’s our job to make people happy. We’re paid to help resolve issues and keep customers smiling.

However, it is impossible to make EVERYONE happy.

Most days, I’m scrambling around trying to make sure everyone is taken care of. Every problem is addressed. Every customer is acknowledged. Every question by every representative is answered. I am like Stretch Armstrong, being pulled every which way. But, if I don’t do it, then I feel like I failed. I’ll continue to search for ways in which I can try to please everyone, even if it means working long hours.

Then, I realize I haven’t taken my lunch break again. In fact, I haven’t taken any breaks. I’m feeling grumpy and frustrated. I’m not engaging in any social level with any of my team. I’m on the verge of burn out.

Our recent guest blogger, Derrick Arteus, wrote a post about “Why You’ll Never Get it Done in Customer Service“. In this post, he shares the overachiever’s dilemma of trying to finish every task with lightning speed and efficiency. However, it leaves him feeling unbalanced and overall, less productive.

I am reminded of the Aesop Fable titled, “The Man, The Boy and The Donkey“.

A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?”

So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way.  But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”

So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”

Well, the Man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey.  By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them.  The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at.  The men said: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey with you and your hulking son?”

The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do.  They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders.  They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole.  In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned.

“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them: “Please all, and you will please none.”

Now, I will ask you a question:

How do we, as customer service representatives, accept that we cannot always solve every problem and turn every frown upside down?

I don’t have the answer to that question but my intentions for writing this post were about doing some soul searching and trying to figure it out. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Be Realistic: We go above and beyond every day to solve problems for our customers. In some cases though, they will ask for something that we just cannot physically provide. If we’ve truly exhausted our resources, it’s OK to be realistic with the customer and tell them of our limitations. We can guide them to a product that might work better for them in the long run.
  2. Take your Breaks: Working too much won’t solve anything. Take your breaks daily to increase your own productivity.
  3. Acceptance: Accept that you do an amazing job already. Accept that you may need to take a step back on the workload in order to be more productive. Accept that you cannot make everyone happy but you will try to do whatever you can.  If you can’t, it’s not the end of the world.

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Jenny Dempsey is the Social Media and Customer Experience Manager for NumberBarn.com. With over a decade of customer service experience, Jenny has been recognized through social media channels as a thought leader. She is co-founder and a regular contributor on the Customer Service Life. When she's not helping or singing to customers, she is studying to become an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. Be sure to check out DempseyWellnessCenter.com and follow her on social media!

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