Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An angry customer to a clerk or an establishment manager (Benefit of the Doubt part 1)

When I was in grad school, my wife and I, on separate classes, had a professor. She was very considerate when it comes to absentee students. Sometimes, some of my classmates will opt to watch movies or just roam around the mall, instead of going to her class. Clueless of what they are doing, the said graduate professor would often use the word, “let’s give them the BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT why they are absent in our class today.” Benefit of the doubt, according to freedictionary.com is “to believe something good about someone, rather than something bad, when you have the possibility of doing either.” It’s like giving the person the chance to prove his critics and enemies wrong. In this day and age, being so called analytical like a profiler is the in-thing because we shall be branded as stupid or not too discerning. Because of this, it’s difficult to give people the benefit of the doubt. In my opinion, though, let’s give it anyway. After all, when proven wrong, it will not be said that he was not given the chance. The court room is a classic institutional example of using such. We always hear the words, “the person is innocent UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY” with certain variations. In criminology, a person is still called SUSPECT. However, once proven, he or she is called CONVICT. The process from being suspect to being a convict is a long one, especially here in the Philippines. Evidence upon evidence will be examined and cross-examined. Lawyers, judges, and people exposed on the judiciary process know the procedures, and they will agree with me that one of the reasons why they do is that they give benefit of the doubt on the accusations. No matter how difficult it is, we need to give people the benefit of the doubt on certain situations. Our first example is between a vocally angry customer and the clerk. We see this every day: customers being angry on the clerk, and eventually, the establishment manager because of a poor or slow service or unattended concern. Especially in the Philippines, and most especially in an ecclesiastical setting, we find being vocally angry automatically wrong. This is somehow a wrong frame of mind. Why? Because being angry is not automatically being wrong! Let us remember that, yes, customers are also human with certain tendencies, but so does clerk, cashier, and also establishment managers. I don’t mean to offend the people with jobs like this, but definitely, they’ll have their defense. In fact, especially with labor empowerment, clerks, cashiers, and establishment managers are somewhat empowered. With the help of soap operas, sympathy is on their obvious side. I don’t want to be mean to them. This is the point of the words “benefit of the doubt”, to understand behavior and being human further, not just make a study out of it like some psychologist or pseudo-profilers. Going back to the topic, let us be reminded that some customers are just more vocal than the others. His being vocal in a given situation doesn’t define the whole him or her. Besides, there are people who can still remain calm, smiling, yet beneath those smiles and calmness is a mean personality ready to dodge the blame and make the customers look as a villain. In situations like this, before we accuse a customer of being an angry, mean being, if we had the chance, let us listen to the angry concern. If the customer is angrily stating his or her concern. Clerks, cashiers, and establishment managers, this is a reminder: not admitting short comings (unless you’re CIA or confidentiality based jobs) provoke most customers to be more angry than the usual, others who are just tolerant enough because they are busy (lucky you!) on such. However, that doesn’t automatically negate an angry customer. Yes, we may say there are other options to address or not address the concern. Again, this is the point of the words benefit of the doubt: we can’t avoid situations all the time. If the customer’s anger is purely because of the service, I think let us just be tolerant and even agree to certain extent on situations like this. Clerks, cashiers, and establishment managers, let’s not have a deaf ear and make fun of angry customers. It’s not because “customers are always right” (maybe not all the time), but because life is fair and just. One way or another, you’ll experience the very feeling in a situation that you are not guarded with. Be also objective in addressing customer complaints, and address it. If he or she remains ballistic, then take action; after all, other customers are not that stupid to notice. Human as we are, we may also be provoked, but when that happens, you are also entitled to that benefit of the doubt. Giving benefit of the doubt is difficult, especially in this fast paced life we have right now, but it must still be given. After all, the Bible said it clearly: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

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