An Ode to Those in Service Jobs

Tonight, after a dealing with the rain and a long bus ride home, I decided to order a pizza for my boyfriend and I so I wouldn’t have to cook. I went to pick up said pizza and encountered the rudest person I’ve seen in a long time. I won’t go into deep detail about what this person did, but lets just say he was not at all sympathetic to the fact that the pizza place was extremely busy and proceeded to give the people working there a hard time. For whatever reason, he was aggravated that he was not immediately helped by the staff because they were assisting other customers and answering the phones.

As I stood there watching this man be rude and nasty to the poor guy working behind the counter, memories of all my time working in customer service came back to me. Over the course of nearly 7 years of working in retail, I’ve encountered the craziest, meanest, and most selfish people ever. Many times I had said to my co-workers that I could write a book about all the people I have helped and all the awful things that people did thinking it would help them get there way. Many echoed the same sentiment. Since I never really got around to writing a full book, I figured I’d post it here. So here it is, my guide to how to treat people in the service industry, how to actually get what you need and want, and what you should never do.

1) Be nice. Simple concept, right? I guess not everyone understands it. Seriously, be nice and you will very likely get what you want. I can’t tell you how many times I went out my way to help someone just because they were nice to me. I’ve had many co-workers who have done the same. If you treat the person assisting you like a human being, be nice and not demanding, they will very likely go the extra mile for you. Think that screaming and making a huge scene will help you get your way? Hell no. Not many people in retail/customer service will tell you this, but if you make a scene or yell at them, they will do the bare minimum to help you. Likely, you won’t get what you wanted. This is also true when you call corporate customer service. I witnessed a women who got angry with the corporate representative I directed her to call because her return couldn’t be approved. After about a minute of her screaming obscenities at the person on the phone, he hung up on her, causing her to storm out of the store. I have also seen customers escorted out of a store by security for making a huge scene.

2) Do not assume you are better than the person serving you. We are human beings, just like you. We are people trying to make money, just like you are. Walking in to a place of business with a sense of entitlement means nothing. You may think you deserve everything in the world, but the world doesn’t feel that way about you. Oh, and flaunting stories about  how much money you spend at a store/restaurant doesn’t do anything. You are likely embleshing and don’t realize that you are a drop in the bucket compared to how many customers that business gets on a daily basis. Unless several employees know who you are and know your name, you don’t make a significant impact on their business.

3) Don’t screw with people who serve and prepare your food. Now, my food service experience is extremely limited, but I still know this is true. While we like to think that no one would stoop low enough to mess with people’s food, stuff happens. Don’t be rude to these people, unless you want to risk something happening.

4) While you may have the attitude that a sales associate’s job is to clean up after your messes, it doesn’t make it right for you to completely destroy a display of items. You want to look at a shirt in a pile? Sure, by all means go ahead. But do not ravage through the entire pile, throwing shirts on the ground that you don’t want. Yes, I have seen this. Try to be courteous, its not that hard. Also, throwing trash on the ground outside is considered littering, so why would it be any different inside? Don’t make a huge mess of a store or restaurant, its just down right rude.

5) Don’t yell at the lone stressed out cashier who has a line of 7 people deep. It is not their fault that their manager didn’t schedule enough people to help out. Rarely will you see people just standing around doing nothing when a store is busy. You may think you see people who are purposely not helping out, but more often than not they are doing something important, whether you want to believe it or not.

There you have it, my top five rules for interacting with people in customer service positions. I promise that you will have a more pleasant and helpful experience if you follow them.
Will you sometimes come across rude, unhelpful customer service people? Of course. But most people who work in customer service are friendly and helpful and will be nice to those who treat them with respect. So be kind and you will get kindness in return.

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