Although we've left Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the past, the Christmas shopping season is only just beginning.
I love Christmas shopping. I love figuring out the perfect gift for my friends and family. And I love trying to find all the sales and deals so that the gifts don't break the bank, too.
Sometimes, this bargain hunting turns into various returns or exchanges. And inevitably, I'm not the only one in the customer service line at Kohls on any given Tuesday.
It's astounding to me the way some customers will talk to the employees. They say some pretty nasty things, and that's not okay. I've worked in customer service myself, and I know just how much these unkind words can put a damper on even the brightest days, especially around the holidays.
It's important to treat customer service employees with respect. From Black Friday onward, employees are usually overscheduled and overworked as the Christmas shopping season is in full swing. The hard days get more difficult and the long shifts get drawn out. Employees deal with a higher capacity of people—and that means more rude people than usual. That means less time to decompress and recover after a negative interaction. That means high stress.
So what can you do?
You still have to go Christmas shopping, right? So you'll inescapably add to the higher number of customers. But, you don't have to add to the high stress.
I recently shared a survey with people who work in customer service and asked them about their interactions with customers. From this feedback, I compiled this list of simple things to tell customer service employees that could make their day in the midst of the holiday chaos.
1. "It's not your fault."
Because most of the time, it's not. Usually, when there is an issue, it's because the customer wasn't listening to the employee. It's important to listen and make sure you understand policies so that you don't end up blaming the employee for something that isn't, in fact, their fault. When this happens, the employee can feel personally attacked and thrown off.
If you're out shopping and witness rude customers blaming the employee for something out of their control, take a minute to shake your head and mention to the employee that you know it's not their fault.
2. "You deserve a raise."
Because chances are, they do. Customer service employees are usually paid minimum wage, which is grossly under what they deserve for the mental exhaustion their job causes them every single day. Sometimes, during the holidays, there are Christmas bonuses or time-and-a-half pay for working the holiday rush—but sometimes, there isn't.
3. "You are a great example of how every employee should be."
Because if you recognize their professionalism, you should tell them. It means a lot to realize someone took the time to notice what a great job you're doing. There are many different kinds of employees out there, so when you notice the good ones, tell them.
Just remember, if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all.
4. "Go ahead and take a breather because I know it’s been busy for you."
Because it has been busy, and customer service is exhausting—emotionally and physically. It's emotionally exhausting because of the rude customers the employees are forced to deal with and it's physically exhausting because most of these jobs keep employees on their feet. Especially during the holidays, employees are constantly running around restocking and serving the inflated number of customers.
If you notice an employee taking a minute to grab a drink or catch their breath, let them. If they're taking a bathroom break or on a lunch break, don't bother them.
7. "I understand how hard your job can be."
Because their job is hard. As I said, it's exhausting.
Christmastime adds stress to everyone involved. Everyone is rushing and fighting to get the best deals. But it doesn't have to be that way. Even if you have returns, exchanges or questions, approach it calmly and respectfully as the employee helps you. Don't make their job harder.
Somehow, everyone seems to lose the real meaning for the holidays and this time of giving turns into selfish chaos. Even if we're shopping for gifts for our loved ones, we become focused on the things we have to get and what we deserve when dealing with customer service issues.
That's not what it's about.
Take some time in this season to think about those who are serving you while to frantically shop for Christmas gifts. Spread some kindness, and make the employees' day a little better.