Friday, August 29, 2008

Customer Service

There isn't a single person that has worked a customer service job that has not, at least once; come home, kicked off their shoes at the door, flopped heavily into the couch and stated in a deadpan monotone, "I hate people'.

I have made this statement myself at least once per place of employment and I have talked to several other people in the field of customer service, or 'cs' as we call it, and in this respect, we are all the same. We deeply feel that way at the time it's said, but it is a very short generalization for the depth of the meaning behind it. In truth, someone good at customer service does not hate people at all. What they hate is the quality of customer that they managed to suffer through that particular day.

I have worked in, for or at; a salvage yard, a tow company, a beauty supply house, several gas station mini-marts, an automotive repair shop, a donut shop, a credit union, and last, but most certainly not least, the state of California in the Department of Motor Vehicles. I have been on the front lines between my employers and the general public in each and every one of them. And there is one unfailing principle that applies to all of 'cs': It comes in waves.

What I mean by that is this... If you have a terrific customer; one that smiles when they talk to you, and conducts their particular transaction in whichever way is easiest for the cashier. A customer that will put all of their unwanted items back where they got them from and do it properly. Someone who, if they have a complaint, is polite about it and you are able to fix it for them, and they will thank you. This is a customer that makes you as the 'cs' person smile, and the universe will send you a 'wave' of more customers who may not be that terrific, but they will be ones that you will not mind serving in the slightest.

If, however, you have a terrible customer; one that bitches at you in a loud, angry manner about something that you have absolutely no control over, makes a mess, is rude to the other customers. This person will pay in unrolled pennies, so you have to suspend the transaction to help others while they count it out, and they won't be in any way polite about taking up the entire counter space to do so. Then, they will want to take things off their tab because they don't have enough pennies. Just when you finally think this nightmare customer is finished, they will proceed to walk back into the heart of the store, break something, deny doing it, and then return to your counter again to pay for a one dollar lotto ticket with a $20 bill. I won't even mention that when you close out your shift, you get to explain to your manager why you have a suspended transaction on your shift report (oh wait, I just did). If you get one like that, then the law of 'cs' says that you will get more. Being that they are the terrible customers, the universe will also send more of them to you after you've stepped outside and lit your last cigarette with matches, in unexpected wind, because your lighter went extinct when you tried to use it... oh yes, and the universe will also stagger these customers out so the next one it sends you will come in right after you've cleaned up from the last one, and your entire day goes this way. This is how 'cs' people come to mutter that they hate people.

So the next time you deal with a 'cs' worker, please be as kind and terrific a customer as you are capable of being, because you may be kicking of their day... and for them, it always comes in waves.


5erg said...

Great post!
I've been in customer service few times, in a way, and I know exactly what you are talking about!

fiftypushing said...

Excellent post. I always try to be an obliging and smiling and REASONABLE customer.