Bring #CommonCourtesy back: The monster in the elevator

I often get asked how to find the right people for customer-facing roles as candidates will always say the right things during interviews. In my head, I wanted to say, observe their behavior inside the elevator and you will see how sensitive they are about other people. How you are inside an elevator with a bunch of strangers shows the humanity in you.

Maybe you have seen some of these profiles in the past, or perhaps you’ll notice them more next time you’re inside the lift:

  1. “It’s not my job.” This person rushes to get in first, presses the floor number but does not bother holding the ‘open’ button for the other people coming in. S/he stands nearest to the control panel but does nothing. You may have experienced being inside the elevator and you see someone running to catch it as the door closes, but the those nearest to the door ignored it. Did you feel sorry for the other person? Or maybe you tell yourself, he can always catch the next lift anyway, it’s no big deal.

I remember how my friend screamed at the woman who did not press the open button while she was entering the lift with her baby in a stroller. The elevator door closed in on the stroller hard. I was walking behind her and saw how the woman had no emotion on her face at all. As an employer, I will not hire a person who would be indifferent to my customers, including babies!

I have been visiting one of the top hospitals in Manila recently for work and I’ve been noticing their elevator attendants for quite some time. They are young women who are pleasant, energetic and very patient. In my last visit, I was going up to the roof deck and as the last passenger before me left, I asked the attendant if she ever gets dizzy. She smiled at me and said “sanay na po” (I’m used to it). I asked how long she’s been doing this kind of work, and she answered “6 years”. In the Philippines, you can get a job as an elevator attendant because it’s still relevant. It’s interesting that we try to be updated with the latest gadgets, but we still couldn’t work the elevator by ourselves.



  1. “I am not moving.” The lift opens at your floor and it’s “full” of people, but if you look closely, there’s a lot of space at the back. I have observed this in office buildings even in the central business districts. I often find myself saying out loud that there’s a lot of space at the back, and politely asking people to move back. I can feel the apprehension and can almost smell their fear to move back to make way for more people.

I feel there’s fear that they might “miss” their stop because the people in front won’t give them enough space to get out. I know it sounds farfetched but we see this on a daily basis. Unless you suffer from claustrophobia, I could not understand why anyone would really do this. As an employer, I will not hire someone who would deprive others of convenience due to their own selfishness.

  1. “Let’s have an elevator joyride!” In office buildings that have poor elevator to tenant ratio, you will often see people pressing UP when in fact, they need to go DOWN. They will crowd the lift and join you up to the top floor, so they can be assured of their space as the lift goes down. They are probably driven by simple economics – law of supply and demand. However, they slow down the process for others just to get ahead. As an employer, I will avoid hiring people who show little patience and would have no regard for other people and the processes in place.

If only hiring for customer-facing jobs could be this simple for employers, but in real life, it’s not. Just as kids fear the monster under the bed, adults fear the monster inside the elevator. It’s time we learn our elevator etiquette again.

Let’s bring common courtesy back. I would love to hear your own experiences (inside the elevator or not) and ideas on how we can change old habits for the better.


Image source:



Top 5 Customer Service Insights for Entrepreneurs

Michelle Patel shares with the #Leapreneur community her top customer service insights for entrepreneurs.

Click here to view the post


Image courtesy: –


What Double-Checking really means

About a month ago, I organized an event for work, which required me to work with a vendor. Days before the event, I spoke with the owner and gave all the information needed – location and address of the venue, where to park, dress code, identification required, and where to set up the equipment. He confirmed everything and gave me the names of the staff I should expect to see on the morning of the event.

The day came and as early as 7am, I received an SMS from his staff asking where the venue is nearby. I texted the owner and said, “your staff is asking me information I already gave you. Handle it please.” After about half an hour, the venue coordinator called and said the vendor was asking her something technical she could not decide on.

I called the owner and said, why is your staff asking the venue coordinator things they would not know of? I reminded him that I gave him all the information he needed, nothing more, nothing less. And I still had a million things to do. He apologized for the confusion and said he will talk to his team.

He called back and told me confidently, “my boys are just DOUBLE-CHECKING to make sure everything is correctly set up.” I replied – “No, they were not double checking. They were asking things that they shouldn’t be asking in the first place if they had the information we discussed previously. I’m trying to be efficient about this set-up and I got you as the vendor because you are the expert in what you do, not me, not the venue coordinator.” He was silent for a moment then replied, “Ok so I will tell my boys to not double-check with you anymore.”


Breathe In. Breathe Out. I realized that morning, how people grossly abused the term, DOUBLE-CHECK.

According to Merriam-Webster, to Double-check means to check (something) again in order to be certain.

Last evening, the restaurant staff handed me my bill and said, “Kindly double check”. My left brain asked my right brain – ‘how can I double-check if I’m only about to check the bill now?’

Why do we say ‘double-check’, when what we mean is to simply ‘check’? Does it make us look more hardworking when we say ‘double-check’? Using it in a customer service context makes it worse, in my opinion. To say you will double-check does not give any more assurance to the customer when you are trying to solve his or her problem. The last time I called my telecom provider to ask some irregularity in my bill. Immediately, the agent said, “let me double-check”. My soul screamed silently –‘What is there to double-check when you’re about to check it for the first time now?’

In customer service, language is very important. Words used must be precise and deliberate because they strike a cord in your customers’ emotions, especially in customer recovery situations. Say ‘double-check’ when you are going to verify something again. It could even be a cross-check done by another personnel. In replying to your customer, there’s nothing wrong in saying, “Let me check on this now…”

There’s this charming little book I picked up in India many years ago called “The Ice Cream Maker” by Subir Chowdhury. I learned about the principle of “getting it right the first time” and the value this mindset for quality brings to an entire organization.

If we aim to get things right the first time, then that’s real efficiency and there won’t be a need to double-check or triple-check, right?

Image source: jaywalkingbackwards


5 Ways CXO (Customer Experience Optimization) Will Save You Money

What is CXO? CXO stands for Customer eXperience Optimization. There are two main areas CXO are divided into. The first is customer-facing assets like front-liners, sales people or customer service representatives. The second is non-customer facing assets like your supply chain, partners, and item processing.

Basically, it’s everything that comes into contact with the customer before, while, and after purchase.



Happy Independence Day 2016

Wishing all our Clients, Mystery Shoppers, Partners and Friends in India, a Happy Independence Day.