An ode to the customer service worker

Ever since I was in high school and worked at a restaurant, I have had the experiece of working with people and dealing with all sorts of customers. It has it’s perks. With my job then, and with my current job now making coffee and smoothies for people, I have been able to meet and talk with great people as well as start conversations with customers.

Then there are the customers that are a little bit more difficult and testing of patience. Speaking from my own experiences, as well as talking with family and friends about their own jobs in customer service–it’s discomforting how rude some people can be. This is an ode to those who work in customer service every day, and a message to those who don’t. I have compiled a list. Now, this is in no way about any particular job that I have had or have, but rather a combination of experiences–those of my friends, family, myself and others.

1. Complaints about things that aren’t the fault of the server

I can’t help how expensive it is to eat there. I don’t control that. I also can’t control the prices of the merchandise. I am simply here to do what I am told. These are complaints to be taken up with a manager, and I can’t do anything about it.

2. Asking me to do something when I’m clearly busy

When I am running around, back and forth to and from, making drinks here, serving coffee there, cleaning up a spill over there–I can’t really refill your drink. Not this instant, anyway. Please be patient.

3. Telling me how to do my job

This may be the biggest pet peeve of friends and family who work in customer service. By all means, if I mess up your order–of course, tell me. But please don’t tell me how to make it. Step by step. And when I tell you I’m now allowed to give you extra for free, please don’t tell me “Well the guy last night did it for me.” Again, I have been trained. I know what I’m doing. I am also following the rules.

4. Demands

Just as you would expect the common courtesy of the girl checking you out at the supermarket, or the busboy at the restaurant you’re eating at–don’t they deserve your respect to? This means using common pleasantries like “Could I please have?” and “Thank you.” Please don’t demand me to make you a drink by simply saying “Coffee.” This is one of my least favorite. If you want coffee, say “Can I have some coffee?” You don’t even need to say please. But if people come to me with one-word demands, I just might say, “Coffee? I don’t understand. You want to know what kind of coffee we have? You want to know the definition of the word coffee? Maybe you just want to know if we have coffee. Please be more specific.”

Let me wrap up this little piece on customer service by saying a couple of things. First, this is by no means a one-way street. When you work in customer service, you are expected to be polite and kind to the customer. I know I would not like it if I was spoken to rudely by someone who was serving me in a restaurant or checking me out at the store. Just the same, though, I believe that the server deserves the same level of respect. Although it is in a sense the server’s job to serve you–we are all human beings.

I would also like to recommend a movie–a great one for anyone who has worked in customer service–and that is “Waiting.” I must warn you, though, it’s a little vulgar. But it’s funny. I sense that anyone who has worked in a restaurant will enjoy it.

My overall point here is, next time you are at a restaurant or at the store, or anywhere were someone is serving you–remember to be nice. You never know what kind of day the server is having–and pleasantness all around could really make the world a better place.

Do you have any experiences of your own to share about customer service? Tell me your own stories–whether you were the server or the customer. Leave me a comment!

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3 comments

  1. omg Megan so true!

    What gets me is the people who think being rude is going to get them somewhere. I’ve been yelled at, threatened, blamed for things not my fault, and people will yell (“HEY YOU!”), beckon, and whistle like I”m a dog for me to come over to them (this is one of the most degrading things I’ve experienced, and it’s happened more than once). People think they are so entitled that they can be rude to get whatever service they want.

    I think everyone should have to work in retail/customer service at least once in their life, just so they know what these people go through to get them the things they want. It really can change your attitude towards people. I have my days after work where I hate humanity as a whole, but I always, ALWAYS remember to smile and thank the people working for me.

  2. Ugh, people!

    I’ve definitely had to deal with all these things working at a liquor store, and as a cashier at a public pool.

    Sometimes you meet the salt of the earth, but they’re usually followed by the scum of the earth.

    Even when I was a landscaper for the park district, I had people coming up to me with suggestions on how to do it better. (Usually older people who don’t seem to have much better to do.)

    I just do what I’m told.

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