Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Eternal Optimist V's the Eternal Pessimist.

Do you ever wonder why there are so many people out there with perpetual frowns on their faces? Why life is a sore disappointment to them and they have stopped hoping it will get better? I am not talking about people with genuine depression or anxiety, I am talking about the classic pessimist. You know the type, complaining about traffic chaos, the neighbours dog, the rubbish pick-up schedule, the crack in the pavement that's been there for months.

I am not saying that these concerns are not valid ones. They are. Directing the complaints at the nearest ear is not going to change things though, unless the nearest ear is a councillor or the CEO. Tell these people to write a letter to Council, State Member or Warren and they say 'Why bother? They don't care or listen anyway.' Well, to be honest, they CAN'T care or listen if nobody tells them there is a problem.

I am the eternal optimist. Irritating I know, but I firmly believe that asking for help, informing the person in charge and following up on it, will achieve positive results. Sad isn't it. The really interesting thing is that, provided the request is reasonable and achievable, I often DO get results. Making me even more optimistic the next time round.

Sometimes the answer is to revisit the question, but the engagement and acknowledgment are there and the result is always a compromise we are all happy with. It could be anything, small things and large scale problems. The amount of people who do not ring up the manufacturer if an item they purchased has broken and the warranty just ran out. Often the answer will be along the lines of.....nothing we can do for you, but sometimes, in the interests of good customer service, you will get the right response......yes, I realise that your problem is a valid one, how can we fix that for you.

Broken phone, kettle, washing machine, PVR or TV? Write to the manufacturer. Purchased some cleaning products that aren't cleaning as well as the ad said? E-mail the manufacturer. Ordered a new phone and it's arrival has been delayed by yet another week? Call the manufacturer.

Problem with the neighbours dog? Let the neighbour know. Write them a letter or knock on their door. Nine times out of ten, they are unaware of the issue.

Now that I've got you all writing letters, tying up the phone lines and knocking on doors it's time to turn the attention the other way.

If you own any business at all, customer service is the key. I am one of those people who will abandon the store or restaurant if the service was awful. I will spread the word and I will be quite vocal about it. Do yourselves a favour and make sure your staff know that the customer is the most important part of their job. Once a customer has chosen your business to walk into it takes a lot less effort to get them to stay than it does to make them leave. A happy customer will also be vocal about their experiences, how do you think some restaurants get so busy and stay that way? Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool you have, use it wisely.

If you work at Cairns Regional Council or are one of the Government representatives for our region, the same applies to you. Word of mouth is much more powerful than you think. Be careful how you treat that annoying person who won't be satisfied or go away, they are the most vocal when scorned. Be careful of thinking that some people are not worth the trouble or have issues too petty to bother with. Every person that you represent is important.

To be completely honest, the pessimist will always be the pessimist and the same goes for the optimist but I would love to see the day when the pessimists among us are complaining that they can't go anywhere without seeing happy, smiling people who are eager to help. When they complain that the response was too fast and they were still in the middle of writing a back-up letter of complaint when the company/business/Councillor responded.


Maybe it's just the optimist talking.....

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