My client is a grocery chain, and the customers never fail to surprise me. People call to complain about a $3 package of fruit and act like you murdered their firstborn. They'll say, "I bought this seven days ago, and it went bad!" We can't say, "Tough luck, toots"—we're in the fixing business, and I have to appease them. Right off the bat, I acknowledge what the caller's saying and try to make them understand that there's a solution: I hear you, that stinks, but look at this positive thing! Most of the time, that does it—they know you're on their side. But sometimes they just want to rant for ten minutes and get it out: "How could this happen?!" One woman called, and her first words were, "I am disgusted. I can't believe this. This is a disgrace!" It turned out she was upset that the grocery store had decorated too early for Christmas. People call and scream, then hang up, feeling glad that they stuck it to the Man. Of course, I'm just the Little Lady, who does this so she can work from home and be with her kids. Still, I always remind myself that you never know what someone's going through—people's dogs die, their cars break down. You have to put yourself in their shoes.

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