In previous posts [(1) (2) (3) (4)], we defined authenticity in customer service as not only genuine behavior, but a genuine desire to do what is best for the customer. Both aspects of the definition are required to make magic happen. In this post, we’re going to check out a couple examples of authentic behavior in a customer service environment where genuine behavior is definitely present, but the desire to do what is best for the customer is certainly nowhere to be found. This is the flip side of authenticity in customer service: I’m PO’ed and I’m gonna share it!
Steven Slater became the poster child for and hero of ticked off employees everywhere when he grabbed his beer and slid down the escape chute of his Jet Blue airplane. The Internet has not yet grown weary of re-examining Steven’s actions that day. His reaction was so over the top that it almost makes the frustration he must have felt that day palpable to any of us who can claim some degree of empathy. And the accolades he received from the employed-and-frustrated across America is a clear affirmation that the average worker can relate to his stress level that day. It’s a fantastic example of authencity. There is is no doubt that he said and did exactly what was in his heart at that moment. Too bad it’s become a horrible blot on Jet Blue’s customer service reputation.
A more recent example involves a fantastically authentic AT&T customer service representative rant on Twitter. Rachael Pracht, the CSR in question, railed against a TechCrunch review that highlighted AT&T’s track record of dropped calls on the iPhone and discussed the upcoming Verizon service. Siegler relates the exchange in AT&T Customer Service Rep Tells Us How She Really Feels: “This Is Bullsh*t”. Rachael’s rant echos the frustration of Steven Slater, but she takes it to the next level by choosing a medium that’s effectively a real-time public broadcast. After identifying herself as an AT&T CSR, Rachael states, “This entire article is garbage because it’s all based on an opinion of someone who assumes everything. Thanks anyway.” Kudos on the authenticity. The words make the reader feel as if a direct connection was established between thought and tweet. However, as you might imagine, AT&T wasn’t so thrilled. Siegler reports that “Pracht’s account has been suspended by Twitter now. We do know that AT&T is looking into the situation.” Plus Siegler is now even more stoked about his move to Verizon.
They’re looking into the situation. Yeah, that doesn’t sound too good for Rachael.
Although it feels good to sound off under stress, we always need to remember that as paid employees we do represent more than ourselves. This little detail is important to keep in mind when the desire to do what is best for the customer begins to wane. And if a customer is being difficult, it’s our responsibility to find more productive outlets for our frustration.