I am always amazed by the ability of the average Italian to be ever so helpful, friendly and personable when it comes to forging relationships, yet, often rude and unprofessional when dealing with the thorny issue of customer service.
Now, I do like spontaneity and the colourful way of dealing with an issue with a grunt and a little swear word, just to let off steam. However, when it comes to needing help, with or without an exchange of money, or requiring a service from someone who has the knowledge to solve my problem, I prefer a more controlled approach.
In my very first job in the UK, in a Claims department of a rather large Insurer, every new recruit had to attend a course on The Principles of Good Customer Service. To this date, some 25 years later, I still apply those principles on the basis that they summarise the essence of any meaningful human relationship: respect, humility, kindness, empathy, good listening skills and politeness.
There is more to that: 'customers', and I quote from the course, 'are both internal and external', meaning that every single person you deal with when you are in the workplace is a human being and your actions can really change their day. Which brings me to this reflection: the new buzzword in the world of business is kind (or empathetic) leadership. This is much needed indeed but why not put equal emphasis on kind customer service? If we all took a little more responsibility (leadership) in our actions and words at work and tried to provide the best (kind) experience we can to our internal and external customers, perhaps the value of kindness would liberally and naturally spread across organisations.
So, my fellow Italian, next time you feel like rolling your eyes because someone is expecting an answer, channel the most friendly and personable leader that there is in you: kind customer service will become second nature and kind leadership might just take care of itself.
Un po' di aiuto - keywords
personable = piacevole, gradevole
forging relationships = forgiare una relazione
thorny issue = questione spinosa
with a grunt and a little swear word, just to let off steam = con un grugnito e una parolaccia, solo per sfogarsi
more controlled approach = un approccio più controllato
buzzword = termine più gettonato
why not put equal emphasis on kind customer service = perchè non mettere la stessa enfasi su un servizio al cliente all'insegna della gentilezza?
value of kindness would liberally and naturally spread across organisations = il valore della gentilezza si diffonderebbe liberamente e naturalmente all'interno di qualsiasi organizzazione
rolling your eyes = alzare gli occhi al cielo
channel the most friendly and personable leader that there is in you = impersonate il leader più amichevole e gradevole che ci sia in voi
second nature = diventerà istintiva
might just take care of itself = si prenderà automaticamente cura di sè stessa