8 Frustrating Life Lessons I Learned From Working In Customer Service

Shutterstock / wavebreakmedia
Shutterstock / wavebreakmedia

I’ve worked in the customer service industry since the age of 19 years old. It was my first job and I’ve done all kinds of sales. I’ve experienced a call center, restaurant and retail; all of which leave me thinking “I need a drink after this shift!” Nonetheless, I’ve gained some life-long lessons that were worth losing some of my sanity for.

If you work in any form of customer servicing then, you know the deal. You know how nasty, rude, messy and unappreciative people can be. You also see how important it is to be kind to the people servicing you. Let me just share some high quality customer service knowledge to those of you who have not experienced a job in this field so you can realize the shit that we go through so you can hopefully not be that customer.

1. That patience is key.

“Oh you close at 9:00PM? Good thing we got here at 8:59!” I’m a customer too so when I know a store is closing pretty soon and soon being in 30 minutes to one fucking minute I don’t walk in and expect to be able to pick out a whole new wardrobe for next weekend’s shindig and expect to be treated like royalty. I will deliver a welcoming smile and after a deep breath forcefully assist you in hopes that you speed things up and realize you’re being irrational. Patience is something that happens when things aren’t always going to move at your pace and then, you realize that wasting your energy on anger will lead to an even more unpleasant experience. Oh, and P.S. if you are that customer quit that shit.

2. People will not always know as much as you do.

“Do you work here?” No. I just wear this uniform because I love the fuck out of the style, and I wear a walkie- headset everywhere I go. Sometimes people will also toss you their credit card when the card reader is literally an inch from their hand. Whether they looked and missed it or didn’t bother looking at all, or hey, even if their new to shopping, you’ll often find yourself in a situation where people haven’t gained as much knowledge as you have. Point it out to them graciously. Having experienced this you will learn to keep your eyes on the prize. Sometimes the answer really is right in front you!

3. There are people that suck.

I already told you the stack of shirts is already sized from smallest to largest. You know you’re an x-small but insist on grabbing the blouse at the bottom. Why?! It looks the same as the rest of them and I made it clear I can grab the size for you (so you wouldn’t make a mess like I knew you would) but you say “it’s okay I’m just looking” and grab the largest size at the bottom. A good majority of people in this world are selfish, mean, inconsiderate assholes who think the world revolves around them. You come across a lot of these people in retail and restaurant work. These people will show you just how unfair the world can be… and how you gotta keep on keepin’ on!

4. You learn humility and respect.

You work there part time; just don’t forget all of those full-timers that are there much more than you are. You’re no better than them; you both have goals and needs in your life. Those full-timers have seen many part time workers before you and maybe even after you. You are a guest in their home, so don’t try to piss on their yard. At the end of the day, you all have one thing in common; that job pays both of your bills, that check is what keeps you going. There’s something pretty humbling about all of that common ground.

5.You appreciate the awesome people in the world.

When servicing customers there’s a 40% amount of customers you absolutely can’t stand. You are indifferent about the other 50% that stumble in. And the other heaven sent 10 are the ones that make you believe there is a God. The kind, understanding, respectful humans that say “Hi” back when you welcome them into your store. These people go above and beyond and seem like they legitimately care. You learn that there is a reason why you have faith in humanity. You learn to appreciate the little things in life.

6. Don’t piss off the cook.

I’m there making an honest living trying to keep it together. If you can’t help me help you, then you’re getting into carpool you’ll want to jump off of. I can’t adjust the price of your order but I can probably squeeze in something on the house for respectful behavior. I can’t give you an extra discount but I can give you exceptional customer service for respectful behavior.

7. It makes you tough.

Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to yell back. I am not able to seek revenge when people boil my blood but I learned how to count to ten and let it go (or drink about it later). It may seem a little meaningless to make someone’s day a little better but hey, it’s a paycheck, and you never know what someone is dealing with. Your skin will get thicker and it could be ten times worse.

8. You become familiar with the golden rule.

In my opinion, if you work in a service job and then go expect service elsewhere and undeservingly treat someone like crap, then you in deed are a shitty person. What goes around comes around. Whenever I go out to eat, I always make conversation with my servers, baristas, sales persons, and I leave good tips because they are serving you! You basically form a mentality that says “once a server, always a server.”

Having this said my wrath isn’t with the retail industry, or my share of snappy managers, it’s with those impolite customers who lose all logic of rationality when they enter those doors. Common courtesy goes out the window for a pair of sale jeans or for an order incorrectly prepared because people are human. We make mistakes! So if you find yourself working in the customer service industry – it’s not forever.

Just keep swimming! I’ve met some of my favorite people through the servicing of others. There’s something about optimistically irritated employees working a late shift that creates long term friendships. And if you’re the avoiding eye contact, aggressive man handling the hanging articles kind of customer (the one leaving their unwanted clothes on the ground in the fitting room) KNOCK THAT SHIT OFF!

Because I don’t truly believe you’re a bad person you just have never worked in retail. Moving forward simply act nice to me because that may be the difference between me checking my phone in the stock room or checking for your size. TC mark

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