But First I’ll Make You Feel Bad…

I received an interesting blog post this week—one from Seth Grodin, who’s marketing savvy is among the best of the best. Sometimes, however, his perspectives on customer service mirrors our actions and reactions with those a bit closer to us, like our friends, family or neighbors. See if you don’t agree…

“But first I’ll try to make you feel really badly”

Here’s one strategy for handling returns from unhappy customers:

Let them know you don’t accept returns. Explain that it must be a user error. Explain that the customer must have lacked care or intelligence or ethics. Explain that you’re willing to accept a return, but just this one time.

Do all this in one continuous statement, without pausing for a response.

This has happened to me more than once.

What puzzles me is this: if you’re going to give the customer a refund, why not make them delighted by the process? Why not create an aura of goodwill? At the very least, both of you will have a better day. Even better, perhaps one day someone will mention your company to this former customer–I wonder what he’ll say?

One tip: if you say your meta-goal out loud (or jot it down) before you start an interaction, you’re more likely to consistently create the outcome you seek, not the one you hyperventilate yourself into.

So…can you relate?  Have you ever been treated this way by a salesperson?  No doubt you have.

But here’s the REAL question—do you ever treat your family, co-workers or neighbors this way?  What exactly, am I talking about?  Statements like…

  • “OK, I’ll bring your lunch, but only this once and don’t forget what a good mom I am that I willingly dropped everything I’m doing to take time out of my busy day to drive all the way across town to bring you lunch—the lunch which I made for you, and reminded you not to forget this morning.”
  • “Sex now? Sigh. Alright, but make it quick. Remember what a busy day I’ve had with the kids being sick, and the baby still not sleeping through the night, on top of trying to work part-time and keep the house clean, the refrigerator full, and manage the kid’s activities. But, OK.”
  • “Volunteer?  Well…..I’m super busy with my job right now, and you know I don’t normally do this type of thing, especially during the summer months when I really like to take time off for some rest and relaxation, but I can see that you really need help, and I’m not one to leave someone in the lurch, so I’ll make an exception for you just this once.”

Get the picture?

Honestly, writing the above scenarios made me laugh.  And they are funny, except when they are said out loud.  In real life. To those we love.

Why do any of us say “yes” but feel compelled to make another person feel badly first?  It’s wacko.

And ungodly.

Because it’s me-centered. Which is the antithesis of love.

Just think about it…..


  1. Terry Ellick

    truly great “spin” Donna. And, as Bill O’Reily (sp) states, “the spin stops here!”
    Which is precisely where our answers ought to stop….before we say them.

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