Customer service – your job or your nightmare?

(I often start these blogs wondering if I will have enough to say on a certain topic.
I often end these blogs wondering how did it end up so long…)

Oh, boy…

My friend always tells me that people, who say they are not certain types of people, ARE exactly that. I have heard it before – “I am not a complainer, but… (insert a slew of the most minute complaints)”, or – “I am not crazy!” (after leaving completely absurd messages on my phone at 3am, overloading my fax with conversational letters, and crying dry crocodile tears while talking to me). Trust me, saying that you are NOT someone/ something will not stop me from making that judgement on my own. With that said…

I used to be a VERY impatient person, who believed in the system of complaining. Back then, I did not care much if I was perceived as rude or not; I just wanted what I believed to deserve, and I would speak out about it if I did not get it. I believe to have been happier in those days… It is possible that I made someone miserable, but at least they were aware of what they were doing wrong, giving them the chance to improve on that. It is not that I would be complaining for no reason just to be a bitch, I did it in situations that required it, in situations where other people were too timid to do so.

Before I tell you the rest of my “evolution”, let me present to you an article about a passenger, who got punched in the face (while holding a baby) by an airport worker. Now, of course, we do not have any information about what exactly was said and what might have prompted that physical response, but it struck a chord with me due to my recent… encounters with what you might call “customer service” people. What we know is that a flight was delayed by 11 hours (ELEVEN HOURS!!! Holy cow! I would have been mad, too!), and the victim was probably expressing his frustration.

The term “customer service” is pretty broad for me, because it encompasses not only the people, whom you talk to on the phone when you are troubleshooting a technical issue, or returning an item at a store, but anyone else who comes into contact with customers/ clients, etc. What most people do not understand is the blame placement. In the matter of the airport incident, it was not the airport worker’s fault that the plane was delayed, and most likely, there was nothing he could do about it. It is possible that he heard multiple people complaining to him and he just reached his limits and punched the person who said something at that very moment. That is no excuse. He should not have lost his cool. Unfortunately, he was on the front lines facing the customers. The technicians working on the plane were out of sight and safe from customer complaints.

Ever since I was young, my parents taught me to respect everyone, irregardless of their job title. I do not care what you do for a living, as long as you are a decent human being. The amount of respect I have for someone does not depend on their job title or their wealth. It depends on what they say and how they act. While it is true that a surgeon has more responsibilities, and earns more than a janitor, the latter one should not perform their job haphazardly. Not rarely do I hear people excusing those who work in the call centers, at fast food restaurants, etc. because they work a minimum wage job. Their lack of professionalism or incompetence should not be seen as a normal thing for low earning employees. One’s hard work should not grow exponentially with the increase in their paychecks. One should work hard in every and any job. Maybe THAT is why those people cannot rise through the ranks?! I know there are other factors that impact that, but one should not expect a promotion/ a better job, if one does not perform well in the one they currently have. One should not expect to keep a job when they do not give their best when performing it.

After I started working in an environment where I had to professionally interact with clients, I realized how terrible complaining could be. I have dealt with people who complain because they believe that the customer can do no wrong, and I had to get used to that. A great share of customers complained to me about something that was totally out of my control, and something that I could do nothing about. They should have complained to other people (who were actually at fault), but I was right there in front of them, so I had to be the shield and take the bullets. The complainers would invoke their rights to speak to the leader of the organization about any minute thing. What they did not know (or did not care about) was that it did no good. Even though we were not in the customer service per se, any complaints were the crucial points of our staff meetings, resulting in an enormous amount of silly rules and regulations, hindering us from doing our actual work. That made us angry. Angry that we were not trusted enough for our skilled performance, but judged because of some often unhinged individuals. That in turn made us weary of random clients, holding us back from giving them personalized treatment. We were machines. Saying what we were told to say, leading us to care less. It did not matter how we performed, as long as the clients were happy. Quality was no longer no. 1. Customer satisfaction was.

Throughout the years, after being on BOTH sides of the aisle – a customer, and a person dealing with customers, I have developed a different approach to customer service reps. It was my badge of honor, my pride that I have evolved in understanding both points of view and therefor acting accordingly. Standing up for what was mine was still in me, but now, I knew how to do it without making the other person miserable. Or so I thought… Knowing all the nightmares of dealing with customers, I am always sympathetic with the reps. Forming my complaints has also changed. Instead of just barking out my angry thoughts, I form them in a calm manner, making it clear what exactly I am upset about and what I expect to achieve. Often times, I hold back the complaints and just bite my tongue and walk away just so that the employees will not be bothered by their managers, just so that I will not be the one to get them in trouble.

However, I am now fighting between my old and my new self, because my new self is often being taken for granted by customer service people. Just because I do not yell and scream and curse, does not mean I am not upset and disappointed. I do not ask for your manager right away, because I want to give YOU the chance to impress me and turn this thing around. My kindness is taken for weakness. They are so used to abusive people that they completely mistreat those who are not that way. That is backwards to me. Without going into details, I will tell you two stories in which me being understandable and polite did not cut it.

1. There was a promise of a free gift to me. I did not ask for it, I was told I would receive it, therefor it became something of mine. After it was found missing in my package, I was promised prompt follow up. There was none. I gave ample time for a response, after which I made a phone call to the person I interacted with before. Without apologizing she said she had been busy and had forgotten. This was not to my liking, but I moved on, believing I will get a response from her soon. Nothing. Next time I called her, she told me that it would be put in the mail on a specific date. The date came and went, weeks after, nothing. By this time, I am annoyed. So, I make a call, she says the gift is sent out based on the subscription anniversary date (i.e. you will get it after your anniversary, not before). Oh, but my anniversary has passed… She says she will get back to me. All these times, she promises to get back to me and every time it is me who ends up calling her. She is not apologetic for that, which strikes me as very odd. Deep down, I know she is not in charge of mailing the gift to me, so I keep my composure while talking to her. When I call her the final time, I express my disappointment. I state that all I want is an accurate answer, which I cannot seem to get. I tell her that I am aware this probably has nothing to do with her, but maybe should could recommend how I should proceed. At this point, I expect sympathy. I expect her to apologize for the delay, for her to say she understands my frustration, etc. Instead, she ends up getting angry at me and has her manager call me complaining about me mistreating their employee. In the end, I found out what I already suspected – that the gift was wrongly promised to me and this whole time and energy was wasted. It beats me how this whole thing got turned around. How I was the most polite and understanding customer ever, but yet the customer service rep got annoyed with me and then had it turned around on me. Why? Because I actually wanted a straight answer? Because I would not let go? Because I fought for what was supposedly mine? Had I demanded answers during the first call, I would have saved myself a lot of time. But I had to give them all the time and opportunities that I could so they could do it right (which they did not).

2. Recently, I came into a nearby chain store looking for my preferred drink of choice. I used to buy it there all the time, but now I could not find it. That was not the first time I noticed my brand/ flavor missing, so I decided to inquire if it has been discontinued, if it is not popular so the store does not order it anymore, or if it is still in the loading dock waiting to be shelved. As per usual, I walk up to an employee who is roaming around the store, I say all the polite “excuse me’s” and ask him if they have this drink. What happens next just stuns me – the employee says: “I do not know if we have it or not.” and WALKS AWAY. You would think he goes to the isle to check, or to the back, but no. He just walks away, continuing his aimless walks and standing around.

Examples like this make me re-think my niceness. If you work in the customer service arena and I get snappy with you and demand a manager, know that it is because my failed “nice” experiments. Next time, when you are dealing with an actually nice customer, do not shit on them, but be glad and helpful for a change. I do get mad when you are not doing your job, because things would not be beautiful if I did not do mine. And just because you are being payed pennies, does not mean you do not need to actually perform your job.

16 thoughts on “Customer service – your job or your nightmare?

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  1. I discovered your blog web site on yahoo and check some of your early posts. Keep in the really good operate. I simply extra encourage Feed to my MSN News Reader. Seeking forward to reading more on your part down the line!…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. To an extent, we are all customer service. Whether you work in McDonalds or you’re the Queen, your role is providing something. Be it food, education, travel, entertainment, pomp and circumstance.. it’s up to everyone to provide value. Royalty have been overthrown and replaced, McDonalds workers have been fired. Wherever you are on the rainbow of life, other people should feel better for interacting with you.
    Unless you’re me. My value lies in my departure 😊

    Liked by 2 people

        1. Good for you. Many people are scared to complain to the actual physician. It’s so annoying when they vent their frustrations to people who have no control over fixing their issues. Go Britchy.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. When it comes to service we should always keep in mind the most basic rule… “The customer is always right.” We should do this in a sincere manner because they are! No matter if they are wrong… they are still right simply because they are spending their time off, their money and their patience to be in the establishment which pays the bills of the customer service worker(s).

    I, like you, have been on both sides of the fence. So I also know how to handle myself. Especially since I now am on the customer side I try to educate these nincompoops when I see them.

    Great post as always! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The “customer is always right” rule I’m on the edge with. I wholeheartedly agreed with it, until I met TERRIBLE customers, who, because of that rule, were the meanest and most stupid customers.
      But in the perfect scenario – exactly. The customer is there to be helped.

      Thank you for constantly making a difference!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree with you… some people like to take advantage of a variety things in life. I have also met my share of “bad customers” and those are the ones who you have to seek “backup” for so that you can maintain composure while they get the extra attention they need from someone else.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Airport workers have THE WORST customer service.
    They know everyone hates them because they slow things down.
    So they have a “I don’t care” attitude and are plain (plane 😉 – I couldn’t resist) rude.
    They should be punched in the face, with a chair.

    Customer Service is created because other departments have failed to communicate properly or give good guidance and instructions.
    Why don’t we start with that problem so we can spend less resources on Customer Service.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Plane 😀
      “Punched in the face with a char” you got me rolling on the floor here, laughing. Ok, I might be exaggerating, but that was hilarious.

      For some reason, I have never had any issues with airport people. I’ve been stopped and searched multiple times. They are rarely nice. It’s true. However, I somehow feel for them. I know the amount of people they have to deal with. They have to deal with all sorts of weird people, crying babies, etc. People always want to cut in line because they are going to miss a connecting flight. Their job isn’t easy and they are trying to do it, while putting security first. Because I like travelling, and I get easily irritated, I switch on my “I’m calm, cool and collected” when I get to the airport. I know they can make my life miserable if I act up. I know if I allow myself, I will get railed up, and I don’t want to get arrested, put on the no flight list, or even just destroy my own mood for the rest of the travel. So I treat them like air. Not good, not bad. We’re there because we have to, so let us just do what we have to and then be off to another thing.

      Ha! That’s a great point. But companies need people to take all the crap for them. However, customer service has now become a very broad term. Everyone that has any contact with a customer (even a doctor) is now graded on how they talk/ act towards patients, not only on how they treat them medically. Because so much pressure is being put on “customer service”, people forget about the actual service, and doctors don’t heal patients. They just act all nice.
      Also, customer service now extends towards they way you are with your co-workers.

      Like

      1. I of course meant “CHAIR” (not char), but happy it made you laugh. Made me giggle as well 😉

        I understand that you feel for them.
        But they choose to do this.
        It just makes me wonder what the screening process is for such jobs.
        Do they also have to do a shit load of personality tests?

        But are you are right.
        Treat them like air.
        There is no need to let them destroy something very exciting.

        Ugh you’re so right about doctors!
        It’s an interesting we are looking now in our company. We need to hire more “Service Managers for Wind farms”. But the discussion is whether that should be a “people person” or one with a technical background.

        You can probably guess that I’d prefer to see someone with technical knowledge.

        What does “People person” even mean? Being nice, wanting to communicate?
        If you can’t do that, then you shouldn’t even be considered.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I went and checked. it says “chair”.

          I don’t know. Maybe they have to go through a bunch of “Is (s)he a terrorist?”, or instead of “Where’s Waldo?”, they play “Where’s Osama?”

          Right. It should be a mixture of both. But in the end, in most cases, it’s just someone who doesn’t mind getting yelled at, but knows nothing about the product/ service.

          Like

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