Having worked in retail for many years, I know it’s not always easy dealing with the public, which was why I was so happy to go and express my personal gratitude to these awesome folks. Being a proofreader by day and an author by night isolates me from the public, so I sometimes forget that people can be incredibly kind and incredibly cruel.
In my years public service, I’ve seen customers and patrons assault workers, verbally abuse them and generally treat them as less than human. Some people feel as if they deserve to be kowtowed to, as if the mantra “the customer is always right” actually means “I am better than you” and was written in the law somewhere.
Of course, I’ve received poor service, as well. I’ve been given dirty looks and I’ve been treated with less than respect in some establishments. The words “customer service” always seem to bring out the worst stories, as well as the best, especially when it comes to dealing with big companies. And opinions on customer service can do a full 180-degree turn with one experience.
Phones and email have separated us from dealing with people face-to-face, and the age of internet overshare has removed the filter that once kept us from saying things we’d regret. Customer service agents can’t give us everything, and their hands are tied by company policy. Some people take that personally, and that’s when the sparks fly. The customer says some poorly thought out things; the service rep is put in a bad mood, which can get passed on to the next customer... Poor behavior begets poor behavior, and in the end, no one is happy.
That’s why I’m dedicating this blog post to all the customer service representatives out there, whether you work in retail or on the phones or online. Your job is hard, and is often thankless. I salute you. Thank you for everything you do, and for dealing with the public so I don’t have to.
Do you have good customer service stories to share? Comment below!