Since my senior year of high school, I've worked a few different food service jobs, all of which have brought me unique experiences and encounters with a wide variety of people. From these jobs, I've come to appreciate just how much dedication and hard work goes into customer service jobs – often much more than is readily apparent. Over the years, I've been an employee at times and a customer at others. Overall, my experiences as both an employee and a customer have taught me what it takes to be an excellent customer service worker. Just as with any type of work, customer service jobs like retail and food service are all about what you make of them – you can choose to be indifferent and slack off, or you can dedicate yourself to growing both individually (in character and work ethic) and in the way that you interact with and treat other people. Here are just a few tips that will help you do the latter:
This is perhaps the most important thing to remember as a customer service worker. You never know how much a simple smile and hello could do for someone. As you interact with customers, don't act bored or annoyed or upset – instead, stay positive and engaging. It's amazing how much a smile can brighten someone's day (and smiling will help improve your own mood, which in turn will lead to you smiling even more – a win-win for everybody)!
2. Be patient.
When it's busy, don't become so wrapped up in being efficient and getting people through the line that you get annoyed with customers who take a bit longer to decide what they want. Your willingness to wait for them and answer their questions can drastically affect the way they perceive their experience and can either drive them away or keep them coming – and after all, being kind is the decent and moral thing to do.
3. Willingly take on all that (and more than) is required of you.
If your boss asks you to detail clean the fridge or mop the restrooms, don't argue or go at it begrudgingly. Again, attitude is everything. Show that you're more than willing to do whatever needs to be done to help the team out. Sometimes this requires going above and beyond – for instance, you may get called into work on your day off. When this happens, take the opportunity to show your dedication to your coworkers and your job. That shows true character.
4. Get the phone number of at least one manager or coworker.
This will prove invaluable if you need to know the new weekly schedule on your day off, if you need to find someone to cover your shift, or if you have a question about anything work-related. By having at least one person's number, you'll never be ill-informed or out of the loop about what's going on.
5. Establish good relationships with your coworkers.
You may not become best friends with everyone you work with, and chances are you'll never see your colleagues outside of work. However, being on good terms with everyone will make your days so much easier and more enjoyable, and things will function much more smoothly when everyone's "all in it together."
6. Stay calm, cool, and collected.
When things start getting crazy and you're working in the middle of a rush, it can be easy to panic and become overwhelmed. However, freaking out won't help anything – just stay positive and cheerful, work as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality, and take each moment as it comes.
7. Don't just do it for the money.
Obviously, making money is an important part of any job. You need money to live, and if you're a student like me, then chances are your part-time job during the summer or school year is helping fund your college expenses. However, if all you care about is the money, you'll miss out on so many opportunities that go beyond that. Learn to appreciate the people you meet, the skills you acquire, and the little moments of character-building in the day-to-day work.
8. Work in an environment that's a good fit and pace for you.
Know what kind of work environment best suits your personality and abilities, but don't be afraid to push yourself. Personally, I love working in fast-paced environments that require excellent communication and teamwork with my coworkers. I thrive under pressure, so I enjoy working in places that require me to stay on my toes.
9. If you're a student with a summer job, stay in touch with your manager(s) even during the months that you're not working.
You never know when you may be in search of a job again and find yourself looking to your old employer. Make sure you maintain positive relationships with everyone, leave on a good note, and get the contact info of your manager before you leave at the end of the summer. Once you've been trained there and know the drill, they'll be more likely to rehire you.