It was happening again. Jessica had just handed the freshly made concoction to her coffee shop customer, and less than a minute later, the customer was in Jessica’s face, red as a beet, ranting and raving: I specifically asked for extra cinnamon on top! Does this look like extra cinnamon?! I think not!
Jessica immediately was shocked at the customer’s reaction, but after a couple seconds settled into the encounter. She had experienced this many times before from customers. Maybe she or staff got the order a little bit wrong, or maybe they got it entirely right, but the customer wasn’t satisfied. And while she appreciated customers letting her know if something wasn’t done perfectly, sometimes how the customers shared their concerns went overboard. The rant did not justify the reason for the rant.
But Jessica had a little mantra she told herself. And in this case, she repeated it to herself as the customer ranted: It’s not about the cinnamon, Jessica. It’s not about the cinnamon, Jessica.
Jessica knew that if customers went overboard about something, that overreaction was rarely just about the issue being discussed. Maybe the issue precipitated the interaction, but the overreaction told Jessica that there was something else going on with this customer. Maybe the customer was having a bad day. Maybe they were late for work or had been cussed out by their boss. Maybe they were tired of the 15 Zoom calls they had had that week and just needed to vent.
It could be something bigger picture going on in their lives that was creating stress or strain or the need for a release. Jessica kept her emotions in line by realizing why the customer was out of line.
Sometimes when dealing with difficult customers, the hardest thing to do is to deal with our own emotional reaction to those difficult customers. And when those customers are being unreasonable or going overboard in their reactions, it helps for us to understand, it’s not all about us. It’s not all about our process, our product, or our people.
Sometimes people deal with issues in their own lives by transferring those feelings and overreacting to other things with other people. It doesn’t make the negative emotions that you and I have to deal with okay, but understanding this may help us when managing our own emotions.
It helps us to remember…it’s not about the cinnamon.