Sometimes, I answer helpdesks to help in special cases or on more technical issues. But when I do, I do it anonymously as our support staff works as a team.
(It's the way my wife's company works. It allows us to work interchangeably, such as replacing each other on vacations or providing collaborative input, without any interruptions.)
However, when I do, something interesting happens.
Some clients treat me like crap. They patronize me and show contempt towards me. They are terrible to deal with, not because of their request but because of their attitude.
They range from the miserable, “the-world-owes-me,” insatiable ingrate who sends tickets in rapidfire succession for every little itch they need to scratch, to the uppity, snarky snob who expects others to bow in the mere presence of their support ticket.
Now, don't get me wrong.
I'm not talking about someone who's genuinely pissed off because of some frustrating problem they need help on, but later becomes appreciative when their problem is solved. (I do sympathize with them when stuff like this happens. I've been there!)
No, I'm talking about people who lambaste subordinates just because… they can.
It is utterly amazing to me to see how clients treat me when they don't know it's me — the same person they revere, are friends with, and pay $500-$1,000 an hour for consulting.
Worse still, it's terrible to see how people are downright condescending toward others in seemingly menial positions. It's also surprising because I would have never expected it from some of them. They're the kindest people I've met.
To quote Lynette Chandler who shared a similar story with me on Facebook:
“I was floored… I'll never view her the same way again.”
The sad part is, many of these clients were people I've met at seminars, were friends of mine, and were supposedly some of my biggest fans. Needless to say, it also made me realize what my wife and her staff had to put up with for 15 years.
(Hats off to you, and you know who you are! ;))
Here's the interesting thing about this.
How many do you think are like that?
10% (i.e., 90% are good and 10% are bad)?
20% (or 20-80)?
How about 30-70?
Nope. This happens in about 50% of cases. Yes, 50%! Close to half of all tickets come from clients who treat me horribly and browbeat me just because of the position I'm in.
Maybe it's because they think I'm a woman? Or an Indian? Or a teenager? Or someone who just started in an entry-level position? In all of these cases, it doesn't matter. It shouldn't matter! And it would be downright insulting if any of these were true.
(I'm confident I'd embarrass the daylights out of them if they ever found out it was me!)
In addition to the show Undercover Boss, this also reminds me of an article I read once about a CEO who typically conducts job interviews at restaurants, just to see how the job candidate treats the wait staff — which greatly influences their decision to hire them.
It's a great social experiment, that's for sure. It's also going to make me think twice when I'm the customer, on the other side, dealing with a cashier, nurse, order taker, wait person, counterperson, clerk, or whomever is serving me at that time.
Sure, I still expect them to do their jobs. After all, I'm the customer and I'm paying for it.
But they deserve to be treated the same way I expect to be treated…
… With respect.