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How to Lessen the Frustration of Workplace Incompetence

Updated on November 10, 2019
MsDora profile image

MsDora, former teacher and Christian counselor, advocates for life with maximum productivity and minimal amount of stress in the workplace.

“How did they even get hired?” “How come they haven’t been fired?”

These questions are often asked by consumers on the opposite end of the employees’ incompetence. Truth is, most workers who render ineffective service have the potential to excel at their jobs.

Incompetence is often the result of carelessness, exhaustion, distraction and even boredom. In our computer age, much of it is caused by the lack of conscious brain involvement.

  • The accountant clicks the symbol on the Excel spreadsheet to display the sum total, without ensuring that his input is correct.
  • The secretary prints the standard letter without entering the specific customer information.
  • The processor rejects an application without noticing that the applicant left black spaces because he was exempt from answering those questions.

To lessen frustrations concerning silly mistakes that could delay our business, there are four steps we can take, whenever possible.

Photo Credit: Tomwsulcer
Photo Credit: Tomwsulcer | Source

1. Conduct Business in Person

We all welcome the opportunity to save time. However, the more serious the transaction, the more risks are involved when we use the fast, easy, electronic method and our documents fall into the hands of someone who reads incorrectly or does not always read. When we sit across the desk from the officer, we make him pay attention by emphasizing the results we want, and by insisting on accuracy.

An eighty-year old woman applied for a passport. Her application was returned with a request for pictured identification of her mother and father. That processor might have been too sleepy to notice the applicant’s age. Sometimes it takes a real face with a real voice to make the employee fully aware that he is dealing with people; not just with forms and machines.

Business Method Poll

How do you conduct most of your business?

See results
Photo Credit: Rharel1
Photo Credit: Rharel1 | Source

2. Recognize That the Employee Is Human

They get tired and distracted. Sure, they are supposed to be alert, but doesn't everybody slip once in a while?

A woman walks up to the information desk and introduces herself. “Hi, I’m Racquel.” The receptionist responds, “Hi Racquel, may I ask your name?”

After repeating the same routine over and over, the receptionist begins to feel like a robot. Then she begins to act like one.

Laugh with her, not at her, when she realizes her mistake. Compliment her on her ability to keep her cool despite the stresses that come with the job. She will feel obligated to help you. If she refers you to someone else, maintain the same attitude of compromise. Know that the worker is not infallible, and that compassion (especially coupled with patience) goes a long way in securing quality service.

3. Make Suggestions

Most businesses ask for suggestions evaluations because they honestly want to render quality products and service. If you suspect that your note in the suggestion box will not be read, talk to the manager. Adopt an attitude of concern whether you write or talk, and let her know how you and other customers are affected.

Two employees worked in a little pastry shop. Whichever one was free took the order, then took the money from the customer, put the money in the register and headed toward the pastry. They did not always wash their hands. Surprisingly, most people did not complain but one woman talked with the owner.

In response to her suggestion, the owner made it mandatory for one employee to handle the money, while the other put on gloves and bag the pastries. One customer's request benefited the entire clientele.

Suggestion Box Poll

What do think happens when you place a suggestion in the box?

See results

4. Appreciate Good Service

Even in the businesses where customer service is sloppy, there may be an occasional breakthrough of customer satisfaction. Why not encourage that worker with a complimentary remark, an intentional vote of thanks, or a note to the employer? Some businesses have surveys soliciting evaluations. Never underestimate the effect of a kind commendation.

There are no excuses for poor performance in the workplace, but it happens. We share the responsibility to avoid becoming victims of employees' mistakes.

Following are a few quotes for both the customer and customer service representative.

Helpful Workplace Quotes to Boost Optimism

For the Customer
For the Customer Service Representative
"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." —Mahatma Gandhi
"Thank your customer for complaining and mean it. Most will never bother to complain. They'll just walk away.” ― Marilyn Suttl
"Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud." —Maya Angelou
“How you think about your customers influences how you respond to them.” ― Marilyn Suttle
In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you." —Deepak Chopra
“Your customers are responsible for your company’s reason for existing.” ― Marilyn Suttle
"The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitude of mind." - William James, Psychologist
"If you live long enough, you'll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you'll be a better person." —Bill Clinton
"If you just communicate, you can get by. But if you communicate skillfully, you can work miracles. "
"Unless you have 100% customer satisfaction . . . you must improve."

© 2011 Dora Weithers

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