Today I’m in London for the first day of SPA 2015. I was early to the venue and I went to the registration desk to sign in.
“What’s your name?” asked the receptionist.
“Seb Rose” I replied.
“No. You’re not registered” she said.
After a few minutes of spelling out my name, and searching around on the database she did find me. She looked up at me and said: “You are Rose, Sebastian”.
It’s true she was not a native english speaker, and that I have a slight accent, but even so I think you’ve got to assume that I know my own name. The reason I bring this up is that it’s something that happens a lot in all walks of life – people assume that the system is right, its data canonical. There’s no reason to believe this – it’s a form of institutional hubris.
Start from a more humble position. Accept the possibility of ignorance, the likelihood that the problem is rooted in the system not the customer. And even when it turns out that the customer is the cause of the error remember that it’s probably a failing of the system that allowed them to screw up anyway.
The customer is often right, and when they’re not it’s not good business to rub their nose in it.