Naga Chokkanathan

Why Not? — Difficult Customers

Posted on: July 23, 2010

Last weekend, I was talking to a friend who is a soft skill trainer. Everyday, she meets different kinds of people (school kids, college students, corporate staff, government officers, soldiers, doctors, housewives, even senior citizens) and trains them in topics such as communication skills, creative thinking, presentation skills, public speaking and so on. A very cheerful individual who really loves her job.

But on the day we spoke, she sounded very upset. When I asked for the reason, she simply said, ‘Nothing, Just a difficult student.’

‘Why? What happened?’

‘This fellow has come to my class with the prejudice that this course is useless. So he questions every assumption, challenges me just for the sake of disturbing my flow. I am having a tough time convincing him that this class will benefit him.’

I had to say something to cheer my friend, ‘Come-on, you can always throw him out of your class, or ask him to shut-up.’

‘No, I can’t and I won’t’

‘Why Not?’

‘Can’t you see? He is not troubling me, he is actually helping me!’

‘What do you mean?’

She explained (with an affectionate tone that only a teacher will have :)), ‘When we conduct the same class / topics again and again, we tend to lose focus, We make certain assumptions, we take certain things for granted, We do certain things just for the sake of doing it, without really getting any benefit out of them for us or for our students. In short, we stop seeing things from student’s angle and start preaching, instead of teaching and guiding, That’s where such difficult students help a lot!’

‘I don’t understand’

‘See, this fellow acts as a devil’s advocate and challenges me continuously. He tells all the negative things about my course, the way I teach and so on, that I haven’t thought of. Those negative points may or may not be true, that’s not the point, without such a difficult student, I wouldn’t have raised those questions myself, or improved from where I was.’

‘Do you mean to say you were a bad trainer?’

‘Nope. I am just saying there was (and is) room for improvement and that fellow helped me locate them. When I work on those gaps and improve myself, I will be applying that knowledge in every future training I deliver and it will benefit all my students. Isn’t it?’

Very true. When we get a difficult or demanding customer / manager, we generally feel bad about it. Most of the times we try to duck away from that difficult person (or situation) so that we can continue the status-quo – our usual, comfortable existence. We don’t even realize the great chance for improvement that we are missing.

When we do something extra for a difficult customer and convince / satisfy them, that improved work quality will reflect in our interactions with all our other customers and make us a better professional / individual. That’s why great sportsmen like talented, challenging opponents, they are the actual reasons behind making of a champion!

(024)

***

N. Chokkan …

23 07 2010

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3 Responses to "Why Not? — Difficult Customers"

// When we do something extra for a difficult customer and convince / satisfy them, that improved work quality will reflect in our interactions with all our other customers and make us a better professional / individual. //

Very true. Awoesome blog.

Housewives or Home makers ?

Sorry it was ‘awesome’

In a quality meet, one presenter quoted, “Problems are mountains of treasures.” This skill trainer’s words and corrective / preventive action, proves it.

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