Friday, April 22, 2011

Customer Fatigue

You've probably noticed I haven't been writing as many blog posts lately. After running the site for a while, I became a bit fatigued; I have a new found respect for daily bloggers (and writers such as Seth Godin, who have good stuff every day, are residents of Olympus!)

But this fatigue can often strike a business owner dealing with customers. Growing up, I worked at the local Sears store. The department managers would be called again and again throughout the store during their shift to handle a problem or issue - usually with a customer who wanted 'satisfaction or your money back' from his Sears store. After a while, I noticed a certain bland resignation in each manager's eyes while handling any customer issue.

This Customer Fatigue strikes all of us working in our business day after day. Sears had many managers, so they could at least rotate out every once in a while. But a small business owner is there on the front line every day.

How do you mitigate your being tired of dealing with customers? One way would be to push whatever decisions you are making (returns/problem with product) down to the staff who work for you. You may have said that all returns have to be approved by you, because someone took something back from another store. Your simple idea has now forced you into being the person to work with every disgruntled customer.

Another is to try and discover the underlying reason driving the customer to speak with you. Could your staff need some customer service training? Could your return policy be vague or too liberal? Is your employee Mary causing problems time and again? By acknowledging the causes behind customer fatigue, you can perhaps handle it better.

Finally, try to avoid viewing customer interactions as a battle of wills - you v. them (either in selling or in handling disputes). I know this is harder for some of us (drive is what makes us successful!), but if you view an interaction as something to win (or lose), you will lose perspective.

Likewise, my fatigue in writing for this blog could be overcome by having another writer help, or not try to compare my writing to much better bloggers. Instead what are my goals for the site and keep those in mind as I think of topics to write about.

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