Sigh. You are bothering me.

Sigh.  The Sigh is the signal customer service  people give you to let you know how stupid, annoying, disruptive or outrageous your inquiry is.

I recently received The Sigh from a company my doctor had engaged to provide me with some medical equipment.  I have dealt with this company for a few years now and they frequently send the wrong thing or don’t call back when they say they are going to call.

A few weeks ago, I called them to activate an order that was originally placed as I was ending my job in New Jersey.  I had told them to hold the order until I started my new job just to make everything easier for everyone:  this way no one in the doctor’s office or the medical supply company had to run around rushing to get things completed under my old insurance.  By holding the order, they could just wait until my new insurance was active and do things in a sane way.

When I called, the gentleman who received my call was friendly.  He brought up my records and confirmed what I had told him.  He told me he was placing my order right then and that he would personally call me back and let me know what was happening and schedule an appointment for me to receive the new equipment.

About three weeks went by and I had not heard from them, so I called.  The person who answered listened to my explanation:  Hello, I placed an order a few weeks ago and haven’t heard anything back.  Sigh.  Big, long,  drawn out sigh.

This tells me something immediately.  She’s not on my side.  I’m irritating her with my questions.  She doesn’t want to help me.  She asked me who I talked with in the previous conversation.  I told her that I had not gotten his name.  Another big sigh.  I then had to explain further about the whole …holding the order while I switched insurers routine.  She was not happy.  She put me on hold for awhile and then finally came back, asked me a few questions and actually seemed in a better mood.  She assured me she’d get back to me; but, I won’t hold my breath.

I’ve done the sigh.  I mean how could I have not, after basically being in customer service for about 30 years, starting with my first retail job when I was 15.  In fact, I confess to doing quite a bit of sighing while working for a bookstore in my twenties.  I’ve been on both sides of The Sigh.

The Sigh is an obvious signal that the person doesn’t want to help you.  What are other the other more subtle signals?  Eye rolling, not exactly subtle is a sure sign they think you are annoying or stupid.

Customer service is not just what we say.  It is how we say it and it is our body language and the visual clues we reveal when helping or not helping someone.

It’s important, when cleaning up your service act, to review what your face is revealing.  Or maybe it is that you don’t rise out of your chair and just flick a finger in the direction the person needs to go to get what they need.

Smiling, eye contact, a tone in your voice that is inviting, eagerness to get up and help are all part of being an engaged service provider.  I looked up the word, engaged in the Merriam Webster’s dictionary.  Greatly interested.  Perfect.  As service providers, we should be greatly interested in the needs of our customers.  Are you?

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