I worked for seven years as a waiter, through high school and college. I did this because it was the best money I knew how to make that didn’t involve selling drugs. And for the most part I liked it, even though I once worked at a breakfast place and always always came up smelling like syrup. But there were days when the customers made me so thoroughly angry that it was only the certainty of getting caught that kept me from smashing dirty plates over their heads.
I think everyone should have to work in some sort of customer-facing job for at least a few months of their lives. If everyone did, I think we’d all be a lot nicer to each other. But since some of you haven’t had the pleasure of dealing with the masses, I’d like to share a couple core ideas with you that will hopefully put all those people into proper perspective. I’m gearing this toward the “phone customer service representative” model, but it should apply to anyone who has the misfortune of having to try to help you whenever something you bought gets screwed up. Enjoy the top two things that customer service workers wish you knew!
They Actually Do Want to Help You!
I know this is hard to believe, because the only purpose of that falsely polite automated lady is to make you curse in front of your children – “Just give me a @#$%^ representative already – sorry, sweetie, Daddy’s not mad at you, please don’t cry.” But the actual people who work there want you to get whatever it is you need. Some call centers actually pay people based on the number of calls they take, which might make you think that they just want to shove you through the system as quickly as possible. Which is exactly what they want to do; they want to solve your problem as quickly as possible. So if you lead off with what you want them to do for you (as opposed to going on a long angry tirade about how mad you are), they’re way more likely to get on it right away.
They Actually Don’t Want to Help You If You’re a Jerk!
The person on the phone is not the reason you’re angry. They didn’t screw up your service, or sell you a broken product, or insult your family. So don’t yell at them. Besides, when was the last time you felt like helping someone who had just given you the finger? My guess is, um – wait a second, what’s the word? – never. Oh that’s right, never. You’ve never wanted to help that person. So be nice to them. They are, after all, the only person on the planet who can possibly help you right now.
Is this a groundbreaking article? Is this recently unearthed knowledge that some ancient civilization put into a stone urn? Nope. It’s pretty common sense. But then so is tipping more than 15% when all you ordered was coffee, but not everyone’s received that message either. “Thanks for the quarter, sir; it’ll sure help when it comes time to buy some dry tack to feed the horse that I ride into work every day!”