The end of civility

It’s difficult to understand that being polite might make someone angry.

My parents taught me good manners.  I learned to be polite and to say “thank you,”, “please,” “sir,” and “ma’am.”

I remember my manners when I am dealing with patients at the hospital and customers at the store.  We had a busy sale weekend at the store.  A salesman brought a customer to the customer service desk to process her order and I attempted to provide the best service to her even though she seemed annoyed that she had to interact with me.  As I left the desk to retrieve her invoice from the printer, she made several unkind comments to the salesman (loudly enough for my coworkers to overhear the conversation) that indicated her dislike for me.  When I completed the order, I said to her,  “Have a nice day, ma’am.”  This caused her to “flip out” and start screaming at the salesman and demanding that my inappropriate behavior be reported to management.

The salesman reported it to management and my manager later discussed the incident with me suggesting possible alternatives  to my use of the word “ma’am” when dealing with customers.  I told her that the customer had taken a dislike to me long before I offended her by referring to her as “ma’am.”  I left the store in a bad mood that night because of this incident.

I don’t know what upsets me the most  – the customer complaining to management for calling her “ma’am” or that I had to be reprimanded for this inappropriate behavior.

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2 Responses to The end of civility

  1. lucycatten says:

    I have also found, through many years of working as a customer service manager, that customers generally don’t like being called ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’ (I’m in the UK). They can so often take it as sarcastic, when in fact it really isn’t intended that way. What always worked better for me was to use their full name ‘Mrs Smith’ or ‘Mr Jones’ or whatever. But then again, there will be customers that complain precisely because you don’t call them ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’! You can never win in customer service 🙂

    • Natasha says:

      You’re right. You never know what will make a customer angry. My manager agreed though that the customer probably took a dislike to me long before I called her “Ma’am.” lol

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