Here’s how it’s different.
What are some signs that someone may feel contempt towards you as a customer?
The customer is never right. A customer may be participating in a discussion that isn’t just a debate or a time to share ideas, and learn new things with an employee. That employee is doing what he or she can to be right.
This is a different type of discussion than someone talking about facts or arguing a point about how to address an issue or trying to get to the best possible answer. I’m talking about being right even if the person is misguided and plain wrong. The employee keeps the conversation going, rambling across topics to get you to admit that he or she is right about a topic, even going as far as to fall to opinion only and ignore facts.
A version of mansplaining can happen to customers by company employees. The customer may make a claim about an event, or product or issue. The employee claims that the customer must be wrong, the company is never wrong. There is no acknowledgement of the customer's point or a path defined so everyone wins. It's only about the employee winning and being right.
A friend of mine shared a story of her experience in Home Depot. She was looking for a specific part. She asked the salesperson where that part was in the store. He showed her where it was but proceeded to tell her that she needed a different part. He never asked her why she needed the part or what she was doing for a project. There was a lot of back and forth between my friend and this employee, a seemingly circular conversation where he kept trying to "be right." Finally, the employee admitted that she had the right part, but then questioned why she had that situation in the first place with this employee.
That employee's actions are a sign of contempt.
Demonstrating an underlying hostility towards a customer; "Why can't they do what they are supposed to do?" It’s understandable that someone would be annoyed at answering the same question four times in a row. But there can be a response based on being tired of answering the same question, stressed about the line of 30 people all wanting to get a fast answer "right now," and annoyed that these customers keep asking questions, thinking "sigh can’t they just figure this out on their own? "
A great example of an employee feeling contempt is the American Airlines guy who loses it. I mean, we’re not just talking anger. He obviously can’t understand why the customers are upset, and we can only assume that he believes they caused their own problems, he constantly defends his behavior (because he is right - and will be right, darn it!), and wants the customers to just do what they are supposed to do (in this case, give him the stroller and quietly sit in their seats and not speak up).
- How is their day?
- Why did they buy the product?
- What is their weekend like?
- What are your plans today?