I have this real love/hate thing with customers. Given that I’ve worked in customer service, in one form or another, for the last 5 years, and haven’t chewed my own arm off yet, there must be something about it that does it for me, but as anyone who’s worked in a customer facing role knows, its not always a stroll in the park..
So consider this an open letter. We’re all customers and consumers, and whether you’ve experienced the other end of the conversation or not, these are all things that we can bear in mind.
I can almost guarantee that the first person you speak to is not to blame for your problem
The person at the front desk, the shopfloor staff or the person who answers the phone; unless its a teeny tiny company that only employs two people, the chances of that person being responsible for whatever it is that you’re not happy about is probably one in a million, so don’t start roasting them personally.
And just because we can’t do whatever you want us to do, it doesn’t make us inadequate, stupid, or bad at our job
We cannot negotiate fixed prices, go against store policies or make magic happen. We’re not being stubborn, and we’re not incapable of unique thought, the chances are we can’t do what you want us to do for a reason.
And if we’re short staffed, we’re definitely the last person responsible
We’re the person who didn’t call in sick, and we’re the person having to pick up the slack for the people who did.
Please remember that we are humans and more than just a uniform
Don’t think that your custom pays our wages and therefore you can treat us however you like. Please refrain from snapping orders (or fingers, which I’ve had before..), or speaking about us as though we’re not there. When working on a checkout once, a woman told her husband that I ‘wasn’t hired based on intelligence’. Oh, and she did that while stood at the checkout with me.
Also, if you see someone in a uniform, maybe stop and check if its a uniform for the store you’re in before you shout at them for help – a guy once yelled at me to help him on a self-checkout machine at Asda, and I have never worked at Asda..
Take a second to think about the day we might be having
I always try to think about how a customer might be feeling. If you’ve had a bad day, I don’t expect you to be a total ray of sunshine and I’ll try not to judge you for being a little bit rude, but I would hope customers return the favour.
In my current job, I sometimes deal with accounts where the customer or a member of their family has recently passed away, and it is never easy. I can’t just move onto the next customer without a care in the world when I’ve just been speaking to a grieving widow.
The reason we have limited opening hours is because we have our own lives and families
Please don’t bitch when we’re rushing you because you walked in the door 2 minutes before we were due to close. Chances are we stop getting paid from the minute the clock strikes shut, and we’re probably dying to get home after a 9 hour day.
Insulting us or being rude to us doesn’t help any situation
It does not encourage us to do our best work, and the number of times I’ve been personally attacked by a customer only to hide in a cupboard for 10 minutes, or even burst into tears then and there on the shopfloor is more than what is ok.
A little bit of patience and kindness goes a long way
A ‘thank you’ or ‘take your time’ means the world when we’re running around trying to help you and 3 other people.
We love being able to help
Our job is helping you, and with the best will in the world we can’t always do that. We don’t get any sort of pleasure out of not being able to help you, but when we can its such a good feeling, so please appreciate that.
When you’re lovely, you make our day and you make us love our job
Generally, people will always talk about a bad experience, but they will rarely share a good one. Its the same for me with customer experiences; I have a wealth of bad customer stories, but if you asked me to tell you about my best customer service experience, I think I’d struggle. That said, I genuinely do LOVE lovely customers, and if I spoke to the lovely ones all day I would 100% love my job.
Even if you may not be remembered for it, be the good customer.