I want to prelude by saying I’ve worked customer service in both retail and call centers, both of which left me with the same thought after my shift: “I need a drink!” But in the end I’ve gained lessons that were worth losing some of my sanity for.
From the ripe age of 18, when I started college, I found it necessary to find a source of income that I didn’t refer to as mommy or daddy. The first opportunity that happened to fall on my lap was working in customer service at a popular home goods store. I decided to jump on board ignoring all previous knowledge of what working customer service was like. While the rest of my coworkers easily lost their tempers, I was able to keep myself composed much longer. It was then that I realized I have a high tolerance for keeping people amused. Companies are much smarter than the average customer may assume, their employees are trained to deal with uncooperative customers. The more you yell and complain the more I have to waste both our times and act as if I’m figuring out a way to help you, when in reality I’m stalling and waiting for you to calm down so we can work together to think of something else that may suit your needs…or I’m simply waiting for you to walk away and take your shitty attitude elsewhere. Too bad I can’t actually say the words, “get out of my face” which is how I’ve learned patience is a virtue.
My next customer service experience happened a few years later at a call center. This is where people get to yell obscenities at you with no shame because you are not standing face-to-face, which clearly means I’m not a person with feelings. Honestly, we all get it—you’re upset, but will making my day worse really help you? I’m there, sitting on my ass 8 hours a day waiting to help customers because I earnestly want people to walk away happy (not because I couldn’t find a job elsewhere), yet it seems to me some customers just choose to be unhappy. That’s probably the most important life lesson I’ve learned: it’s never personal…some people choose to be bitter and that’s their choice, I do not have to stoop down to their level.
Call me crazy but working with such crazy customers is a blessing. Knowing that I am authentically happier than the majority of the customers I come in contact with makes me feel better about my life, so thank you, all you bitter hags! However, when I do come across a rare gem: a grateful human being, it is then that I want to kiss the ground they walk on and thank their parents. No matter how hard a situation is, it is important to remember everyone that you communicate with has their own issues aside from listening to yours. When I come across a person that grasps that concept I make it a point to take care of that customer in any and all possible ways because they deserve it.
Take it from me, do not spit on the hand that feeds you. I’m there making an honest living trying to help you, if you can’t help me help you, then you’re getting on one roller coaster you’ll want to jump off.