Let’s Talk About “Karen”

Today’s entry is about the closest thing to a “rant” that you will find on this blog, so far. In fairness, I said “so far”.  Here we go.

I am tired of Karen. No, I am not tired of challenging customers. I am tired of the lazy act of calling someone Karen, simply because they challenged you a bit.  Maybe it was too many questions. Maybe it was a perceived “attitude”. Maybe it was, in fact, a customer from hell. It doesn’t matter. STOP with the lazy “Karen” excuse for not effectively and lovingly dealing with humans.

There is no denying that some customers are never going to be happy, but guess what? That percentage is so infinitesimal that it’s time to stop lazily walking away, calling them “Karen” and not actually taking the time to see what they need as a human being in your establishment.

The “Karen” phenomenon has allowed us to be lazy in customer service. Rather than accepting the challenge of dealing with a human, we now just write it off to a “Karen”, and wait for our colleagues to give us sympathy, as though we just faced a mountain lion, or fought off a troll. Meanwhile, that customer who you didn’t even try to provide resolution continues their damaged behavior, perpetuating a cycle of anger on both sides of the interaction. Remember? I’m not calling them transactions anymore.

There are online publications dedicated to giving press to service workers with sob stories about challenging customers. On rare occasion the situation did, in fact, involve an especially unruly customer. But, in most cases, they were videos of customers being human beings like the rest of us. I think it’s time to stop encouraging people in customer service to return the energy the customer is giving them back to the customer. I know, that in my customer service history, the times I was most irritated with guests were usually when I was irritated with myself. We can often project our own situation onto the interaction we are having with a challenging client, and walk away from it giving them ALL the blame for the interaction.

I am not saying all of us in customer service do that. I am merely reminding everyone that we must take into consideration, our own humanity when dealing with another’s. Social media is beginning to reward service people for putting a “Karen” in their place. So much, so, that there are Social Media sites dedicated to it. I want to see sites dedicated to showing the world how you KINDLY and LOVINGLY resolved a challenging guest problem. We could all share our ideas on how we do it in our individual businesses. This my friends, is how customer service saves the world. Yes, it is a wildly idealistic concept. It’s also one that is possible.

So, lets give the poor women who just happened to be named “Karen” a break and, instead, challenge ourselves to break through to the humans who are just trying to get through life with their stories and emotions intact.