What the exterminator taught me about customer service

Posted on October 28, 2011 by


I write this with the complete understanding that I may take jabs at myself, and the job I have done at Voice123, but I also think it will be helpful, as every voice over talent has to offer a form of customer service when working as their own business. Let me get this out of the way, I am a clean guy; almost to a fault. So, you can imagine how violating it is, as someone working from home, to have unwanted guests create havoc while trying to work. I speak of bedbugs, and what the exterminator taught me about customer service. Allow me to draw some parallels to illustrate what I learned.

About two weeks ago, my ultra-clean life was disrupted by finding one bedbug. The landlord contacted an exterminator to come check out my apartment. When he arrived, without doing any form of inspecting, the exterminator told my wife of the Armageddon that awaits us. Did he INSPECT anything? No. Why did he say it? I quote: “Because he has done this 1,000 times before, and he knows.” So, he gave us a battle plan and left. We did what he said, but when he came back to exterminate, he said we did not prepare enough, and actually began to yell at me and my wife for not listening. Well, this guy could be the most amazing exterminator in the world, but credibility extends into how one behaves and presents their knowledge to someone else. I think the kicker was him reminding me of how expensive he was and that I should be grateful the landlord is paying for it. I love NY.

Why did this make me think of what I do at Voice123, and what I see happen at times online when voice talent lose work, even though they may be the most qualified? This exterminator walked into my place of business, at a time when I was looking for answers, and told me I did not know what I was doing. He essentially attempted to scare us into needing his business, and scared someone close to me. His reasoning was that he was a professional, and although I did not know him, he expected me to take his word for it. Why should I? He went on the attack. I do not trust him now. He then gave us poor instructions on how to deal with the situation and left. Later on, he showed up to tell us how we did not know what we were doing. In short, who wants to work with anyone who appears to not be doing any work, attacks the client or customer, insults their intelligence, and then says, “I know what I am talking about.”

Well…shoot…if anyone ever found me rough around the edges; I apologize. It is true the intention of helping can be lost behind our behavior. All of us, can only do what we know, until we know better, but first, we have to be trying to get better, always. Lessons learned for me:

  • Be nice, always…no matter who is right!
  • Patience is a virtue.
  • If you are frustrated, the job may be getting to you, so rediscover why you do it.
  • Inject labor into what you do…show them you are working!
  • Do not insult, scare, or attack clients and customers. A fear-for-profit business eventually leads to resentment.

Did you pull any lessons from this, too? I hope so because my wife may kill me that I just announced we had bedbugs. Save me by letting me know what you gathered from this!

About the super clean author

Steven Lowell Steven is the Community Manager of Voice123