Allow me to share a little story with you. Indulge me for a minute and I promise it will have a point.
Every other year and my brothers and I try to do something special. This year we decided to book a trip to Florida, and we elected to go fishing for Tarpon while we were down there. We knew we needed a captain to take us out, so we did a lot of research, read a bunch of tripadvisor reviews, and interviewed several captains. We were looking for someone that knew their craft and would get us results because this was an activity we didn’t think we could do successfully on our own (sound familiar?).
When we thought we had found the right person we booked them for a full day of fishing. Charter fishing is pretty expensive, it is close to $1000 for a day on the water, but this was to be a once in a lifetime event for us and we were willing to spend the money.
The sun was just peaking above the horizon as we arrived to meet the captain. He was there, ready to go, although the boat was smaller than what he had advertised. As we got out onto the water his first words to us were “don’t ever buy a boat,” and then he went on to tell us about all of the unexpected expenses that came with owning a boat and how one of his boat’s engines had recently broken down. I asked him how many days a week he took folks fishing. He rolled his eyes and said “too many.” He talked about how he had to work 6 or 7 days a week to make ends meet and because of these extra expenses he ‘unfortunately’ had to work and book clients for an extra three weeks this season because he needed the money.
Do you see the error he was making? In his mind he was probably just venting or blowing off steam, but he was complaining about his job to me. He is in the customer service industry and he is complaining about working to the customer. That is something you simply cannot do. Ever.
This is what happens when you complain to someone about something. If they have a basic level of empathy they will feel bad for you and they will want to do what they can to not make it worse. But here is the key. When you are in the customer service industry and you complain about your job to the customer, they customer feels bad and doesn’t want to add to your stress. The easiest way for them to ‘help’ you is to not make you do any additional work, which in this industry means they will stop working with you.
It is really very simple. You can’t complain about your job when you are in the customer service industry. There is no situation where that works well for you. People either think you are a whiner (and no one wants to spend time with whiners) or they feel bad and try to reduce your burden. Since you are telling them your burden is work, they will either consciously or subconsciously seek to reduce that by working with you less. Would you send a referral to someone who was overworked and stressed about how many people they were already working with? Do you return to that bartender, hair dresser, massage therapist, or doctor that complains continuously about the amount of work they have to do and the struggles associated with their job?
In the customer service industry complaints are a one-way street. The customer can complain or vent about their day and they may do that every now and again. But that is not an invitation for you to do the same. If you are complaining about any aspect of your job or about other clients you interact with it, you are in violation of the number one rule in the customer service industry. And if you keep it up, you likely won’t excel in this industry for any length of time.
I know this was a story about fishing but hopefully you can see the parallels. Charter fishing is a high dollar luxury item where people have a certain set of expectations and desires and they are turning to an expert to help get those desires met because they don’t know how to do it themselves. Personal training is much the same, although the number of clients trainers work with is even less which makes every client all the more valuable. If you want to keep your clients coming back, if you want to become and stay a successful personal trainer, you cannot complain about your job (any aspect of it) to your clients. That is the number one rule in customer service, and it is a rule you must follow.