We’ve all had a bad experience with Customer Service. We’ve all had that frustrating, endless line of one customer support person after another as we worked our way up the chain from ground-floor grunt to supervisor, to manager, to managing supervisor, to Customer Relations Support Specialist, to The Governor, to CEO, to President, all the way to the top…. the original ground-floor grunt. None of them seem to be able to help us, none of them seem to want to help us. So, we get louder, angrier, and more and more ready to shank a bitch with a shiv made from our Customer Loyalty Rewards Card. Eventually, we give up, get results, or start the five state card-shivin’ spree we always dreamed of.
I’ve been on both sides of the coin. I’m a Customer Service kind of guy. My various careers over the years have been in the person handling industries. I’ve been a cashier, a receptionist, a salesman, a door-to-door salesman, a bag boy, and yes, even a Customer Service Specialist.
I’ve also been a pissed-off, screwed over customer.
Look, I know what I’m like. If you’re reading this, you can probably imagine how verbose, aggressive, and foul-mouthed I can be when I’ve got a stick up my ass about something a company may or may not have done wrong. I’ve probably made some poor call center employees in foreign countries cry.
I can be a monster, and I bet most of you have been, too.
Want to know a secret?
Customers are all, universally, horrible.
When you are yelling and screaming at the the Customer Service Operator, or chewing out a cashier, you are just one person in an endless chain of human bile.
A customer service person’s job is to absorb your venomous hate shit and do their best to push positive vibes back your way. It isn’t an easy job. Sometimes, it’s a freaking impossible job. It might be the third worst job on the planet.
Call Center work is both the worst and the best. It’s horrible because you’re locked in a tiny booth with a robot in your ear that continually delivers rage-filled voices. No one calls a customer service line to say, “Nice job on this product. You guys are awesome and I’d buy you cookies if I knew where you lived.”
No, people call in because something broke, or some money thing happened, or they just want to make someone shit themselves in frustration. The real kicker is that when you’re sitting their, impotently absorbing all of that putrid rage, you know something that the customer probably doesn’t… almost always, whatever the real problem is… is their fault.
I’ve never done the research on it, but I’d guess that 99% of customer service calls are because the customer is a moron. Actually, from my personal experience, it’s a relief and comfort when you get a call where it actually is the company’s fault. You can usually fix that pretty easily. Mea Culpa, click-click-click, done. Generally speaking, those are also the nice ones. They’re just calling in because somethings wrong and boom, you’ve fixed it.
I’ve got a theory about the other kind of customer. This theory is partially based on my experience as a service worker, and partially based on some horrible self-examination.
Here’s my theory: People get bitchy at customer service because they are too pissed off at themselves to think clearly.
Of course, the other side of Customer Service is the in-your-face kind. The kind where you go to a store to rage-gasm all over the poor worker.
Imagine this scenario:
You are standing at a cash register. You’re feet are killing you because you’ve been standing on them for about six hours. There are a handful of customers in line waiting to check out, because in retail, everyone herds to the registers in clumsy, heavy waves. I’m not sure why, but I’ve working on a theory about that, too. You’re working your ass off to get the line through as quickly as possible. If someone spends too much time in your line, your manager is going to come down on you like a fifty ton weight. Boop, boop, boop, goes your little scanner. You’re smiling. You’re in the zone.
“Hey, wait!” You hear the customer scream, “That was supposed to be $24.18 not $28.14!”
Now, it’s on. You are going to either A) Get screamed at by this customer because the price is wrong, or B) Get Screamed at by one of the customers down the line because you took too long correcting the price for this customer.
It’s only a matter of time before you’re doing your best to keep smiling while a red-faced customer is firing spittle and insults at you while half-a-dozen on-lookers watch.
You are being publicly humiliated over something you have no control over.
Now, it might sound like I’m giving you a nightmare scenario. It might sound like a rare, horrible day.
If you’ve ever worked retail, or any other customer service, you know that it’s a daily thing. Even if you’re damned good at your job, you’re going to get treated like ass by someone.
If you want a nightmare scenario….
No, I can’t tell that story…
The memories are too fresh.
So, yes. The next time you want to vent all over some poor cashier or call-center employee, just remember that it might seem like the Customer Service is shit, but maybe, just maybe, you’re a shitty customer.
Of course, none of my readers would be like that… they’re all kind, wonderful people that have only kittens and rainbows in their souls.