Customer Service Is Crazier Than It Sounds
Most of us have worked a job in customer service in some capacity. And hated it. These are jobs that deal with interacting with customers in any capacity. Cashiers, servers, bartenders, bank tellers, etc. On the surface, these jobs don’t seem very difficult to do … physically. Mentally, however, they can break even the happiest person down, turning them into cynical, hateful human beings. Why? Because customers are the worst.
Everyone knows the ‘Karen’ meme — but it’s all fun and games until you come face-to-face with a real life ‘Can I Speak To Your Manager’ person. No one wants to be that person, yet somehow they’re everywhere, ruining some poor soul’s day.
This is why I think it should be mandatory for everyone to work at least one customer service job in their lifetime. You’ll see the worst types of people humanity has to offer, but you’ll also learn how to deal with them, but more importantly, how not to become them. Here’s how working in customer service can change your life forever … for the better.
You’ll Learn To Respect Those Working Jobs You Think Are ‘Easy’
Look, I’m not saying that retail is the most difficult industry to be in, but it is one of the most mentally exhausting. What most people don’t know is that there is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on at most retail locations. If you think store employees are there only to serve you, you’re wrong.
A bitter truth of the retail world is that low-level employees usually have the heaviest workloads. Sadly, a lot of their workloads are often unbalanced. Things must be done at certain times, certain ways and there are no work-arounds.
It’s not uncommon for an employee to be asked to complete a task at a specific time, and also be forbidden to work overtime. Their stress level skyrockets many times, just to add a cherry on top, a difficult customer will pull them away from their work. That’s not the customer’s fault though, right? Not at all — but it’s also not the employee’s.
Although you technically may not be doing anything wrong, you’re making someone else’s life harder. And let’s be honest, a lot of the time we don’t even need the help, we’re just being lazy. What I’m getting at is we could all be a little more courteous to those that are serving us, and more aware of the work we’re putting on them.
You’ll Have A Deeper Understanding of How Policies Work
Sometimes as customers sometimes, we don’t understand certain establishments have certain policies. For example, discounts are not something a cashier just do themselves. We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘I don’t make the prices’. There’s a reason cashiers say that numerous times a day. Something as small as giving a 10% discount without authorization can get someone fired.
If you’re arguing with a cashier because you missed a sale that ended yesterday, it’s probably not in their power to give you what you want. What’s that? Call a manager instead? (Ok, Karen) Well, escalating a situation might let you have your way, but the employee you overstepped will most likely be scolded for not preventing the situation.
And really … it’s your fault to begin with.
It’ll Round Out Your Personality
Working in retail will put you face-to-face with every personality type imaginable. Unfortunately, most of these personalities are NOT friendly. Remember ‘Karen’ from earlier? Yeah, there are millions of her.
It’s not a total loss. If there’s one thing to gain from having to bite your tongue, it’s that you learn to build a tolerance for stressful situations.
We all go through a phase where everyone and everything annoys us. I hate to break it to you — teen angst lasts well into your 20s in some cases! Some people think being grumpy and sarcastic is a charming trait, but it’s not. Take it from me … I truly apologize to anyone who had to deal with me when I was at my most negative.
What does this have to do with customer service? For starters, working this type of job will help you grow immune to people’s bad vibes and attitudes. Difficult customers (I’m looking at you, Karen) usually just want to get a reaction out of you, but you’re better off letting their energy bounce off of you. It’s not worth your mental health.
Look … it’ll always suck to deal with rude people in that moment, but take the high road. You’ll leave the situation a better person. Training yourself to ignore these things will pay off in the long run. When that happens, you’ll automatically know how to respond with a level head during stressful situations, not only at work, but in your day-to-day life as well.
Fighting fire with fire is never a good look, and there’s no place to learn tolerance like at a customer service job. And if we’re being honest — customers usually get more upset when they don’t get a reaction out of you, and that’s extremely satisfying.
You Will Learn To Have Empathy
Empathy is something everyone should have built into their personalities at birth. Sadly, empathy is usually present within those who haven’t had the an easy-go at life. They know how it feels to struggle and what you have to do to get by, and it shows with how they deal with people.
This isn’t something exclusive to customer service, but it’s very important to consider. The cashier who has a slight attitude isn’t defined by his job. He has a life outside of work, and sometimes that life can be tough.
The employee you yelled at because they weren’t authorized to provide a discount? They’re working three jobs to help support their struggling family. The customer service rep you humiliated in front of her coworkers because you didn’t bother to read the return policy? Her husband is sick and he’s not getting better.
Please people, just be courteous and follow the golden rule.
You will Become Aware Of Your Own Manners
This was my personal gripe when I worked in customer service. Everyone is taught basic manners when they’re children, but you’d be shocked at how rude people can be. I’m not only talking about being polite … I’m referring to social skills you think would be common sense. Allow me to explain …
No one wants the sweaty money you just pulled out of your bra — yes, this happens. Try not to hand a cashier a pile of crumpled up bills. Smooth them out like an adult so they don’t have to do it for you! Considering paying a huge bill with pocket change? You know the cashier probably has to count that at the end of the night, right? Getting impatient in the long line? The cashier has no control over how many items someone is buying. I could go on for days.
You’d be in awe at how unaware most people are when their basic manners, or lack thereof, start showing.
Oh, and please do not throw your money at the cashier or on the counter. Hand it to them, like a grown adult. Just try not to make their job more complicating than it needs to be, for everyone’s sake. Consider the following …
Please … Stop With the Corny Cashier Jokes!
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, enough with the cashier jokes! Cashiers have heard them all and they’re never funny. Oh, you just printed that $20 bill today? Ha. This item is free because it won’t scan? Never heard that before!
Just stop. I get that you’re trying to be nice, but an argument can be made that you’re probably making someone’s day worse. If you want to make the cashier smile, just say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and don’t leave your trash on the counter before walking away.
To sum it up, all you need to do is be a polite and courteous person. This goes for all people, not just customer service workers. Oh, and if you’re the type to roll your eyes at any of this because ‘it’s their job’ — maybe you’re the problem.