A Little Empathy Goes a Long Way…

GAS STATION ATTENDANT…I ran out of gas coming back to Chicago from Florida. I misread the gas gauge which was my loss — so I had to walk a few miles down the road to address the situation. After purchasing a one gallon gas tank and filling it up with gas, I was down the highway to add something to my empty tank to get me to the next gas station.

While I was the only one in the gas station store, I had asked the female attendant about a gas can. She pointed to a few small containers  at the end of the row. As I was paying for the gas can dripping in sweat on a sunny and humid Florida summer day, I said I ran out of gas down the road — in the middle of addressing the situation. No questions, no comments, no empathy. Here I am, perspiration pouring down my brow and neck like I was taking a shower and breathing heavy from running and she had nothing to say. A little love or understanding would have gone a long way. She wasn’t busy — it wasn’t as though she was in a hurry to service another customer. It was a rather human less interaction.

From Bp.com

AUTO SERVICE PROVIDER…I had mentioned this earlier, but I received no love from Pauly Honda when replacing my battery a few months ago. They had previously serviced my car (and battery) two months prior to a trip I had taken this past spring. It appears the battery was never checked as my unbiased personal mechanic had said the cells were shot for some time. I explained to the mechanic that I had been stranded at a rest stop and having to call roadside assistance because my battery quit working and no response. No apologies, no understanding, no empathy. I wasn’t trying to assess blame, I just wanted someone to say, “Mr. Schwarm, I’m sorry your battery quit working and you had to call roadside assistance. Were things easily addressed by them?” Perhaps next time at Pauly Honda, there will be more empathy.

DO CUSTOMERS HAVE TO SHOW EMPATHY TOO? Yesterday, I spoke to my daughter’s friend who works at the Panera restaurant in Vernon Hills, IL. This is a new gig for her and her focus and responsibilities over the last month or so has been on busing tables. She tries to clear the dishes as quickly as possible. Sometimes, she gets a little behind but patrons will not have to wait more than 2 or 3 minutes before she clears their dishes. She will sometimes hear patrons complain that their dishes are not removed immediately. She’s doing the best she can. There may be infrequent situations where she might get a little behind but if this persists, she will get assistance to try to provide good service.

She was a little frustrated when she said that sometimes, she’s just surprised at how rude callous some customers are. Some of these customers being demanding appear to not know she can hear their complaints. It’s not a 5 star restaurant and I suspect the employees are doing their best. I would recommend a little more empathy from the customers. Perhaps putting themselves in the other people’s shoes might provide a little perspective. Maybe not but it’s worth a shot.


Kevin Schwarm

I have over 25 years of professional experience in business, information technology (IT), and customer service. Industry experience in retail, medical insurance, higher education, non-profit, financial services, and property and casualty insurance. Customer focused professional interested in providing value (save time, money and aggravation) by evaluating and analyzing information, services and products with a unique perspective.

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