My Customers Gave Me a Life

During my Junior year of college I worked as a commercial customer service rep for a large auto insurance provider. About half of of the calls I took were made by customers unhappy with rate increases.

On one of these calls, I attempted to calm a customer down and explain the rate increase. But first, I conveyed how I truly felt about the situation. It wasn’t training, it was genuinely how I felt about business.

I told them that they are the reason I exist: they are the reason I paid my rent that month, the reason I was able to put food in my refrigerator. Their trust in our company was the sole reason I was able to put clothes on my back and have any sort of quality of life. And I meant it.

After conveying my honest gratitude, I explained that in order to continue to provide a service, our company must turn a profit. To do so, we needed to slightly increase our rates. Because I was dealing with a business owner, I got more specific: I explained that our margins as a company were 6%, and that compared to their business, we were actually providing a service at a much lower margin than they were.

After explaining the situation, the customer was much more understanding and did not cancel their service. After hanging up, I looked in the cube next to me and noticed another rep taking notes on what I had said.

“That was an amazing call. Where did you learn to say all that?”

“I didn’t. It’s just how I feel. Think about it. Where do you think your paycheck comes from?”

It amazes me how rarely this realization occurs among employees and entrepreneurs alike. Your customers are the reason you exist. They really do pay your mortgage. They really do feed your family. When you treat them with disrespect, or complain behind their back, you’re forgetting this simple truth.

Treat them right, and your customers will give you a life. Treat them poorly, and their absence will bankrupt you.

It’s your choice.

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