As his friends cheered him on, I felt more than just a few hairs stand up on the back of my neck. The response was exactly what should have been said, but there's a difference between thinking it and putting it in print and essentially dumping a can of gas on the situation.
Here's a lesson I learned from my Dad when I was in fifth grade. I wrote something bad in a classmate's autograph book. I'm older than most of you - back then, girls had autograph books and would send them around the class to sign.
When it was my turn, I went overboard, straight into being rude. The teacher was a friend of my mother's and passed it on to her. I got home from school that day and was pulled by the ear into the bathroom to wash my mouth out with soap! Seriously, it was a complete spin-off of the scene in Christmas Story. Later that night my Dad sat me down and told me, "Don't ever put anything in writing you wouldn't want the whole world to read!"
We've all crossed the line and written things we wouldn't want to be shared, but Customer Service shouldn't be one of them. The customer isn't always right, but we live in Cyber Space. Today, one angry customer can reach thousands. And, when you share things in public forums you're sharing it with the entire world. I'm not saying you have to be taken advantage of, but you don't need to poke the bear either. The quality of your work should speak for itself, giving you an opportunity to always take the high road.
The next time you have somebody push all the buttons to drive you nuts, instead of losing it, just walk away and ignore them. Don't bring yourself down to their level or worse, lower. Even more important, you don't need to shred somebody to make a point.
Great Customer Service isn't just about following through on your promises - it's about the way you communicate with everybody interested in you and your business. Sometimes the best answer to a potentially hot situation is to just "zip it"!