I've had my fair share of bad experiences as a customer service employee. It's a struggle, and emotionally exhausting. But, working in customer services has a brighter side in all the dark.
Sometimes, there are nice customers. These customers always improved my workday and made me excited to come back to work the next day. Even just a simple comment like, "you guys always do such a great job," or, "this service is why I eat breakfast here every day," would absolutely make my day.
While the respect aspect of customer and employee interactions impacts a big part of these experiences, I've now decided to take a more in-depth look at the way customers talk to employees. So, I developed an anonymous survey to try to analyze these interactions.
This survey asked questions about specific thing customers will say to employees. It was directed at those who work in customer service. They were asked about things customers said that ruined their day and surprising things customers have said. I expected to hear some interesting stories about other employees' experiences. The survey turned into an outlet for the employees to vent about all the bad customers.
A constant response from employees, when asked about things customers have said that ruined their day, was that the customer blamed them for something that wasn't their fault.
"A customer let her kids make a mess and she told me to clean it up...saying it's my job." "I got cussed out and nearly slapped for something I had no control over." "Being called a racist because an expired coupon would not scan."
"Your prices are too high." "I'm so disappointed you never have my bread in stock, I went online and complained." "Every time I see you, you're on break."
Another common response was being blatantly insulted by customers when the employee was just trying to help, understand the situation, explain policies the customers were trying to get around or just doing their job.
"I was cussed out and the woman threatened to sue me and my company because we could not help her in seconds." "Telling me I'm rude for speaking to a co-worker about their order." "Rudeness, shortness, and entitled attitudes." "They said I had no brain cells when I was trying to help them."
"I am making your job difficult, hahahaha." "You and your company are a bunch of f---ing idiots." "You know why you work in a theme park? Because you are a terrible person. You are so stupid." "You're not pretty enough to be working up front like this....they should have you in back stocking so no one sees you."
And of course, there was a fair share of just plain unreasonable stories.
"A parent told their child to pee in the corner instead of asking if we had a bathroom." "'Is my food ready yet?"' As I'm sitting on the toilet in the bathroom. Yes, she followed me into the bathroom to ask about her food."
"At that price, does it come with a free gold necklace?" "You are forcing me to get a loyalty card so you can keep tabs on me."
Obviously, there is a disconnect between employees and customers. While lack of respect is a big aspect of this disconnect, another reason is a lack of understanding.
Most of these negative interactions could be prevented or shorted if the customer would take a moment to get out of their own selfish world and listen to the employee trying to explain why they can't take an expired coupon or why their food is taking a bit longer than usual. If customers understood that there is a reason behind every decision or policy, maybe they wouldn't find everything so unreasonable.
So next time you're in an inconvenient situation at the store or in a restaurant, try to understand the situation from the business' perspective. There's always a reason.
But there's never a reason to say these nasty things to customer service employees.