I’ve worked a lot of retail and customer service jobs in my life. From barista to saleschick at a clothing store to an assistant manager at an art-gallery-type store to call centers.
I’ve been doing this in various capacities for 20 years.
I have dealt with a lot of people, and I can tell you: the holidays are the worst for anybody in retail or any kind of customer service.
Customers are overtired and stuffed full of sugar. They are late. They are stressed. They are broke, and trying to figure out how to pay for Christmas. There’s a lot going on inside of every person walking past you in the mall.
The “filter” between what’s going on in their brains and what’s coming out of their mouths gets thinner and thinner with each passing minute. The less sleep, the more money being spent, the more stress getting piled on (“what do you mean you need 2 dozen cookies today for school?), the thinner the filter gets.
I remember one lady calling a place I was working and screaming so loud, I had to hold the phone away from my ear. The entire store could hear her screaming. When she stopped, I put the phone back up to my ear and sympathized with her, even though my whole body was exhausted after a 10 hour shift at 4 months pregnant and I really just wanted to go home but my entire staff had just called out or quit and I had nobody to relieve me.
It’s ok to be frustrated. I get frustrated all the time. What’s not ok is screaming at a complete stranger because you had a bad day.
After so long working in this industry, I’ve come up with a list of things that I wish my customers knew when they approached with a problem or an issue.
I hope this helps my retail and call center peeps a little this holiday season – I feel your pain!
SEVEN THINGS CUSTOMERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
DEALING WITH CUSTOMER SERVICE:
- It’s the holidays, have some patience. That person on the other end of the phone is a human who is real busy too. They get it. But they also have to deal with hundreds of customers every week who DON’T get that the voice on the phone or the typing behind the chat all come from another human being. It’s amazing what people will say to retail workers or customer service agents when they’re calling or typing. If you don’t have to look them in the face, do your hella angry (and sometimes downright rude) words really count? Spoiler: YES THEY DO.
- Be kind. The retail worker or call center employee did not personally break your internet or screw up your shipment or send you a broken doodad. They do want to help you, but their desire to do so lessens with every snarky thing you say to them. The nicer you are, the more that agent wants to do very nice things for you to make up for your problem.
- We (customer service and retail) totally feel you. You are not the first person to call and say that your cell phone isn’t working, or to tell us that defective thing is defective. We would be frustrated too, if this was happening to us. We get it. But….
- It’s pretty restrictive as to what we can do for you. We DEFINITELY want to help you (because it’s our jobs), so ask how the agent can help you fix the problem, or ask for something reasonable. Your phone wasn’t working for 10 minutes because the network was down? You’re not going to get a huge credit on your bill. You’re not getting a free iPhone because you dropped yours in a puddle. You might get a credit if you ask – and ….
- It never hurts to ask. Again, NICELY PLEASE. And be reasonable. If they say “no, we aren’t allowed”, don’t escalate. Escalating to a manager is for when the person “helping you” isn’t helping, not when you think the manager is going to give you a bigger credit.
- Please do not open up a support case, and then immediately call while you are online chatting with the same company. This means you are occupying 3x the people for 1 of your issues. This is helpful for exactly zero people.
- “Squeaky wheel gets the grease” is right. But that doesn’t mean the squeaky wheel has to be rude. You can advocate for yourself and your issue without being a total jackwagon, and as I mentioned in #2, the person on the other end of the phone will be way more willing to give you more if you’re nice.
Summary: be nice. Working retail and customer service is hard during the holidays, and we want to make your lives better so be kind!
This post was written as a part of the NaBloPoMo, a daily blogging journey I am committing to in November 2017.