I work in customer service. I have all my life. I’ve worked as a staff member at the Plaster Fun House, I’ve worked as a waitress at the Pancake Parlour, I’ve worked at Cotton On as a retail sales assistant, I’ve worked at Veronika Maine as a retail sales assistant, I’ve worked for Save the Children as one of those annoying people on the streets who try to get you to sign up to stuff (i lasted a week), I’ve worked for Flight Experience as a front of house member, I’ve worked at Village Cinemas as a customer service member and I work at a University call centre. I have alot of experience in different situations with a variety of people. Yet when i hear about customer service, all i ever hear about it how bad it is. The thing is, customers rarely stop and think that maybe their behaviour is the cause of the bad service. Not always but for some, i guarantee it’s the customers fault.
Here are some things that you should avoid doing if you would like good customer service:
Tips for retail or specialty retail stores:
- Look before you ask for a brochure, they are usually right in front of you.
- Don’t ask for a discount if you know you’re not entitled to one. Most of the time if there was one, it’d be advertised.
- We are not mind readers, ask for what you want. Don’t just stand there and expect us to understand.
- Don’t speak in another language and then get angry when we don’t understand you. Just like speaking louder and slower doesn’t work, speaking in a language i don’t understand doesn’t work either.
- Ask a stupid question and expect a stupid answer.
- Do not make inappropriate jokes and certainly do not keep going if we’ve told you we don’t appreciate it.
- Sales jokes are not funny: “haha savings, you mean spendings,” especially when we’ve heard them numerous times before by people who are just as wanky as you.
- We generally don’t care about your life story so please don’t share, we just want to do our job.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t ask if we work here if we’re sitting behind a desk/using a register/wearing the store uniform/have a name tag on with the company name.
- We generally have no control over store policy, so don’t yell at us if you’re upset with something, we don’t appreciate it and we will generally do the least possible to help you out if you do.
- Talking on your mobile phone whilst trying to complete a transaction is rude. Do one or the other, not both and don’t get annoyed if you are ignored whilst on the phone. Respect goes both ways.
- Again, pay attention, Don’t read the brochure/information then ask questions that are already answered in what you’ve just read.
- If you want something from out the back, ask for everything at once, don’t keep asking us to go back and forth.
- Remember that the first purchase on Monday will usually mean there is not enough change if you use a big note. We can’t go to the bank in the morning because we generally start when the banks open and can’t leave the store unattended or open late because then you will also complain about that.
- Ask about store policy before you purchase.
Tips for over the phone customer service.
- Don’t ask the same question in different ways. The answer will still be the same.
- Please don’t get annoyed/upset if the person you are speaking to has to transfer your call. First point of call staff are the ones with the least authority to do anything for you. If the person on the other end doesn’t answer, it is not their fault.
- Don’t lie. Chances are, we will know. Especially if we work in a small call centre. Example from my work:
Customer: “no, but the gentleman i spoke to last week told me x, y and z”
Me: “Um, we haven’t had a gentleman working here for at least 18 months.”
- Be patient, again first point of contact staff are generally just here for admin and simple customer service. If you’re request is complicated, it can take awhile. Saying that you need it asap also doesn’t help.
- Do not talk over us when we are answering a question that you have asked. You will miss vital information and annoy us, and then will be less likely to go out of our way to help you.
- Terms and Conditions are meant to be adhered to. If you don’t have a good reason to argue them, then don’t.
- If you’ve received a definite response that you’re not happy with, don’t call back and speak to someone else. If the staff have been trained well, you will get the same response no matter who you speak with.
- Don’t call if you are on a train/tram/outside in wind/holding a screaming baby. It hurts our ears, makes it hard to understand you and puts us in a bad mood.
Ultimately, it comes down to mutual respect. Think about things that you don’t like other people doing to you and don’t do it to others around you. Yes, we may be in a job to help you, but we are not your slaves. Occasionally you will hear a response you don’t want to hear, or have to do something you don’t want to do but if you can’t or won’t compromise, then there actually is nothing we can do for you. Please also remember that you, personally, are not paying our wages, so don’t threaten to get us fired or whatever else you threaten for not doing what you want me to do. It’s beyond pathetic and in the scheme of things what you want won’t matter in a month and no one deserves to feel unsafe in their own workplace. Also know that if you threaten someone around me (and i’d wager alot of others too), i will call security to physically escort you out and then report you. It may not mean anything but know that alot of people won’t stand for it.
For most people, working in our jobs is just a stepping stone to something else. So please don’t treat us as if we don’t matter. When we say “hello how are you today?” don’t respond with “i’m just looking.” I didn’t ask what you were doing, i asked how you were. Yes, we both know that I don’t care about your answer and that you probably don’t care to tell me but polite social exchanges is how our society functions. Besides, we’re required to ask as part of our job descriptions and the majority of people will play along with the exchange.
But most of all, please be considerate. Please do not walk into a retail store at 5.55 pm knowing that they shut at 6 and want to try on everything you spot. Don’t call a call centre at 4.58 pm when they close at 5 for something that you know will be long and complicated. Closing times are easy to find and remember that you may want to just get whatever it is out of the way so you can go home, but the staff member who is still there will have to wait until you leave, still finish up their end of day procedures and leave later than expected.
You’re actions do affect others. So please, think about your behaviour if you regularly experience bad customer service. It may actually be you.
Or the staff member is clearly shit and needs to be fired immediately.
Is there a certain thing that staff and/or customers do that irk you? What is it?