Mickey's Mind

Monday, August 21, 2006

Is it possible to be a bad customer?

The answer is : Yes. Someone long ago said "The customer is always right". I'm here to tell you that the customer is not always right. I have worked in some aspect of customer service since I was in high school and have dealt with my share of bad customers.

Before I offend anyone, I have had my share of great customers. A prime example is that during Thanksgiving while in high school, I was manning the cash register the day before Turkey Day when the servers for the credit card machine crashed. If you have ever been in a grocery store before Thanksgiving you know it is sheer madness. I had a line of people at my register aggravated and did not want to hear that I could not ring up their purchases. A man proceeded to tear into my 16 year old self and blamed the entire system crash on me. I am close to tears, I had been there since 7am (it was now 1pm) with no real lunch (although me and a coworker sneaked a loaf of French bread and cheese from the deli-don't worry we paid for it). A lady immediately jumped to my defense and put Mr. Pissy in his place. She made sure I was OK and asked if she could still buy her groceries if she paid with cash. She was very nice and never once did she have an attitude.

All customers are not like the lady mentioned above. Most are like Mr. Pissy. I don't know where some people got the idea that since they spend money at an establishment it also means they can verbally abuse someone behind a counter. Now, I will admit there are some very special people standing behind counters who can't carry on a conversation or do basic math. But for the most part the customer service I deal with on a daily basis are very nice.

Customer service reps remember bad customers whether it's over the phone or in person. When you dial that 1-800 number for customer service everything you say is being recorded. When you use foul language or just rude that gets noted on your account. And if you think no one reads the notes before calling a customer, you're crazy. My best advice when dealing with a customer service rep over the phone is remember that you are talking to a person. A lot people get very brave over the phone. A rule of thumb is that if the customer service rep was in front of you, would you still say the same thing? Most people wouldn't. I know it's easy to get fustrated on the phone, but remember once you catch an attitude the customer service rep is no longer eager to help and just wants to get you off the phone.

When dealing with a customer service rep in person remember a basic rule of thumb: be polite. Sounds pretty basic huh? A cashier may see hundreds of people in a week, but if you called him a name he won't forget. Have your form of payment ready. When the cashier says hello, say hello. I know everyone has a bad day but the cashier can't take their bad day out on you, so don't take yours out on them. Remember that the cashier does not determine the prices or the tax of the items. If you have a problem with the sales tax, write your congressman. Don't like the prices? You do have the freedom to shop somewhere else.

And just something to keep in the back of your mind: would you want someone thinking they have the right to rip into your 16 year old son/daughter because he or she spent $2 bucks for a loaf of bread? That person standing behind the counter or on the phone has feelings too.

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