Filtering my Negativity as a Crappy Customer

It turns out, I’m a crappy customer. Not to open with a blog post cliché, but honestly, this really is a tough one to admit. 'Cause nobody wants to accept they are, in fact, a bit of a douche canoe.

You see, I am naturally quite a cynical person. The happy-go-lucky, chill demeanor I emanate from this here blog is incredibly filtered through layers of editing—Sorry to burst that illusion!

In fact, I’d say I side on negativity more often than not, and have to check myself countless times a day to make sure I’m putting positivity into the world.

But what about authenticity I hear you scream. Well, perhaps it’s time for an unpopular opinion: if you’re naturally abrasive, you shouldn’t be authentic. Sorry! You should absolutely filter your negativity.

Now and again my personal filter slips. Sometimes a thing I shouldn’t say finds a way through, and it happens most often when I hit support queues—ironic, I know! How negative I happen to be is usually compounded by whatever queue I find myself in.

It probably won’t come as a shock that I’m all in on self-service. Let’s face it, it would be weird for someone responsible for educating people about self-service focused software not to be at least a little enamored with it.

Me hating self-service would be like someone suffering from lactose intolerance trying to promote cheese, or a vegan trying to promote, well, anything fun. 🙊

The thing is, I like to work things out and fix them myself, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one! I’ve come to expect answers to exist somewhere I can find them. I don’t care if it’s a knowledge base, FAQ, a support forum, or some random webcam jockey posting a hack on YouTube. Google is my friend—at least they are when they’re not stalking my every move 👀—and I want to be allowed to fix things at the “figure this whole thing out on your own” stage.

I mean, I don’t like things going wrong in the first place. But if they do, I want to find a way to fix it myself. Because at that stage I’m not such a bad guy. In fact, I can be a downright wonderful human being. Still cynical as hell, but my filter if firmly fixed.

As soon as I move beyond that stage I become a grade A asshat. Though like I said, it depends on the queue I’m pushed into.

I can just about manage a live chat if the person on the other end is competent and knows what day of the week it is. I’m instantly less happy if I have to resort to email, though slightly more than if you feign human interaction and send me to a god damn chatbot. To be honest, if I wanted to talk to robots for hours I’d have gone into politics. 🤖

By far the worst outcome for everyone is making me call you to talk about my issue. Let’s be honest, nobody under 40 wants to call someone to speak about a problem they’re having. And the person taking the call rarely wants to take the call.

It’s a lose-lose support scenario, and on a call, I become the worst type of whiny, negative human.

It might interest you to know that many years ago I used to work on the other end, taking calls from whiny humans. Though until I started taking support tickets again, I hadn’t realized how bad my attitude had gotten, as a customer.

Good Breeds Good

Most of our support tickets are great. We have some incredible customers, most of whom are in the same boat as me in wanting to solve their own problems. But they are infinitely more patient—or have an incredibly solid filter in place!

If you read the blog regularly, you might recall that not every customer with a problem is a gem. We’ve gone over and over a few of the bad apples that have cropped up in our otherwise healthy bushel so I won’t reiterate.

But thinking about these negative tickets made me think about how I have been treating people when I have been seeking customer support.

I’ve spoken a few times about the contagious nature of negativity. It spreads so easily. Exponentially, even. And we post a lot on the blog about how important happiness is. In fact, we probably post too much about it.

For us, happiness and positivity is a driving force behind much of our decision making, and something we’re constantly checking on as a team.

Don’t be fooled though. I realize the sheer volume of posts where I bang on about happiness sets unrealistic, almost utopian standards. It can make us seem a little cult-like like we’re in some kind of happiness fuelled haze every moment of the day.

We’re not! As I mentioned before, I’m cynical AF most of the time. I’ve just got good at filtering it. 🤷🏻‍♂️

And that, once again, is the point. Being good, nice, friendly—whatever—to others is a choice. One that has ramifications far beyond what you can see or hear. And it goes both ways.

Understanding Perspectives

When I’m acting as a customer service ticket wrangler, I’m basically paid to be positive. My whole purpose is to find a solution to a problem that will leave everyone happy—That’s why some companies inject “happiness” into the titles of their service and support team.

As a customer, I default to thinking the issue is costing me time. My motivation is to find a way out of the ticket queue after offloading the baggage I came in with while feeling a sense that I’ve actually achieved something worthy of the cost.

As a customer, I go into support queues like it’s some kind of battle. One of us has to win. There is no equality here. I’m a Highlander, there can be only one.

This, I’ve realized, is the root of my shitty attitude. And actually results in a less amicable outcome for everyone.

On the flip side, since adopting a more “let’s not spread negativity like a massive a-hole” attitude, support has become much easier to get along with.

In fact, it seems like treating people well encourages them to treat you better. Who knew!