During a conversation with a close a friend, she tells me that she loves working in customer service because it shows off the type of person you are. Her statement instantly filled me with guilt because all I do is complain about dealing with crazy people for 40 hours a week. My biggest fear is waking up in 5 years (really 2) and still being at this job. As an introvert (even though my Myers Briggs Personality Test keeps giving me ENFP no matter how many times I take it) I would give anything to just stay in my home, coffee shop, or whatever comfy place all day and write. However, until I can start making an actual living from it, I’m stuck dealing with unpredictable personalities and occasional unfair treatment. But hey, life isn’t fair right? Don’t get me wrong, I have had many pleasant experiences with patrons, but too often I have to take deep breath and remind myself I’m just here for a check. I’ve learned a few things over the years to help keep my sanity. Curious? Keep on reading!
1. Keep That Same Energy
I have a habit of taking on the energy of the customer that approaches me. If you’re sad, I become sad. If you’re excited I become excited. And if you come to me with an attitude, I throw one right back at you. And while the second example is actually positive, I’ve learned this habit is counter productive and I shouldn’t give anyone the power to change my mood… especially a stranger. You don’t have to be overly happy the entire time, but a cool, even temperament should get you through the shift without any hiccups. Let the patron be miserable by themselves.
2. Patience is Key
I know this is a cliche statement found in every self help book, but it rings true every time. Acquiring patience will change your life. I’m one of those people who gets irritated by “dumb questions”, but I’m learning to look at it from a different light. You may think everyone should know the answers to certain things, but life doesn’t work that way. This type of thinking actually shows how limited your perspective is. We all have been raised in different environments and with different lessons. You may think something is easy to figure out or universally known, but it’s not right to show you irritation to someone who is simply asking for help. Instead of feeling bothered by these type of questions, I’m learning to feel honored that I’m teaching another person something they didn’t know.
3. Be Careful With Exceptions
I must admit that too often I have knowingly bent the rules for patrons just to avoid conflict. Usually it came back to bite me in the ass because they either would expect the same favor from other coworkers while naming me as the initial culprit, or they would repeatedly come to me for the same treatment. I’m not against helping someone who is genuinely in need, but be careful of the ones that are just trying to take advantage of you – this is where your discernment comes in. If you do decide to make an exception for someone, be sure to let them know that the action isn’t usual practice and it’s a one time courtesy. Also, it’s probably a good idea to give your coworkers and managers a heads up.
4. Compliment Them
I know what you’re thinking. Why compliment someone who’s irritating the hell out of you? In customer service you have to be a little fake sometimes just to get through the day. From my experience, even something as small as complimenting their earrings will change the customer’s entire demeanor. It’s even better when they give you one back! Trust me, the patron will be much more pleasant the next time you have to tend to them.
5. Don’t Take it Personal
No matter how professional, nice, or attentive you are, there are some people who are just set on being dissatisfied. And to them I say “fuck em”. At the end of the day you’re there to get check. Be as kind as possible, explain everything thoroughly, and laugh it off with your coworkers once they leave. Don’t let anyone take you out of character and stay focused on your goals. You’ll be out of there soon!
What are some tricks you have learned while working in customer service? Let me know in the comments or let’s chat on social media!