By Marcel Wiedenbrugge
It must have been about 13 years ago that I was spending a long weekend with my scuba diving buddies. I remember one evening, I had a discussion about the stupidity of many people working in customer service and how they annoyed me. “Every time I explain something to them, it seems as if they do not want to understand what the issue is…it drives me crazy, etc, etc”.
While I was ranting, one of my friends interrupted my heated monologue and said: “I don’t agree with your approach.” His comment triggered my curiosity, so I asked him: “What approach would you suggest then?”
So he told his story that he worked as a project engineer in the chemical industry, when he was responsible for the construction of large chemical plants. Part of his responsibilities involved managing foreign personnel. Unfortunately, his instructions were apparently not always thoroughly understood. That led to mistakes, and to co-workers who seemed quite consistently not willing to learn from their mistakes. This annoyed him so much that it started to impact his mood and health.
One day he told his wife about it and they started to think and talk how he could solve this problem. He told me that took him three months to come up with an answer. By now, I was really drawn into this story, so I asked: “Well, what was your solution?” His answer was: “Friendliness.”
He continued: “From that moment on, I decided to apply friendliness in every situation I encounter in both my professional and private life. The results where astonishing. Not only did I achieve much better results, but this had a great positive impact on my mood, and my health. Even better, I have found that people almost in any situation are willing to walk the extra mile to help me.”
I was amazed by his story. I thought about it for the rest of the weekend. Somehow, it all made sense. So I said to myself: “Let’s give ‘friendliness’ a try for one week. If it works, I will continue to use it.”
After one week, I was amazed by the results of being consistently friendly. Both colleagues and customers were much more willing to collaborate. Calls did not escalate, and my mood was improving as well. From that moment, I decided to use friendliness as a default professional approach and I have never regretted doing so.
As an author of the book “Happy Customers Faster Cash,” friendliness is one of the 33 suggestions we offer, so I’d like to quote from it:
“Once you choose to make friendliness your default attitude, in daily practice you will notice that friendliness:
- is actually the best ‘weapon ‘ to win almost any argument
- is by far the best attitude to keep and maintain good customer relationships
- will help you to feel better about yourself, your work and doing so will keep you more in control in almost any situation
- will contribute to a good working environment with your colleagues and being friendly isn’t hard to learn to do, although it should be a part of you or your character and come from within. Friendliness can’t be faked and if you do try to ‘fake it’ people will notice.
We can conclude that friendliness as a default attitude benefits you as a person, your team, your performance, your customers and your organization.”
As the saying goes, the best advice is for free. Usually that is not the case, but here I would definitely recommend all of you with “frustration/anger” issues, to try consistent friendliness just for one week. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.
Marcel is the co-author of “Happy Customers, Faster Cash” USA Edition, available at amazon.com.