WHY WEDNESDAYS: Why Customer Service Is So Important

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Customer service is something I feel so passionate about. Call me crazy but I’m very critical about the way people interact with customers, and I will quite happily watch workers serve people just to see the way they handle certain situations.

As a customer of the world (that got dramatic very quickly), I feel I have a right to be treated a certain way, just as much as the employee has a right to be respected. Sadly, I’ve experienced some truly appalling customer service and not only is it disappointing and gives me buyer shame, but also it’s an embarrassing thing to go through.

One particularly shocking poor customer service experience led me to leave my meal, completely untouched and just walked straight out. No it wasn’t a dine and dash situation, my partner paid and stupidly even tipped…bless him. But no, we argued about how he was tipping bad behaviour but he insisted that if we didn’t tip it would be punishing the chefs working hard in the kitchen and would not affect our rude server.

I’m a pretty patient and understanding person when it comes to waiters/waitresses, because of my severe social anxiety, I very rarely eat out, so to be treated in such a bad way not only affected me as a diner in that restaurant, but also reinforced those fears that I had tried to shut out….if you want to know all about the horrible customer service experience I had, just ask, you know I will name and shame.

Being a front line staff with direct contact with customers makes those roles quite an important one. Customers are not only paying for a service but also for an experience, it’s not the big bosses who are helping customers with their experience, it’s those who are face to face with consumers.

There’s a fine line between a great experience and a horror story and I feel like my experience is affected by the mood of those paid to be there.

How many times have you seen a cashier looking bored as you paid for your goods, how many sales assistants have been completely unhelpful and looked disinterested when you’ve asked for help? It’s such common practice nowadays to wonder whether the waitress serving you even cares that you want your steak medium rare and not well done…if someone has to question whether you like your job then you know you’re giving bad service, and that’s such a shame because imagine if you paid money only to be met by someone with a sour face and a bad attitude, like how is it their fault you’ve had a bad day?

I get that service workers are humans who are allowed to have a bad day or two, but from my own experience of frequenting regular local places, there are such a thing as bad employees, those who make you feel bad for disturbing them, who constantly look like they would rather be somewhere else. Hell there’s a lot of people who hate their jobs, but come on… surely you can plaster a fake smile and keep yourself together for the hours you’re being paid to be there right?

I get really angry about poor customer service because I well and truly analyse things. I’m such a weakling and 99.9% of the time will not say anything outright if I’m being treated poorly, but if I see someone being treated unfairly or not being given what they’re paying for, well, just try and shut me up. The thing that so many employees (god I actually don’t know what to call everyone who works for someone in a client facing role) forget/don’t think about is how they just don’t know everyone’s story.

Good customer service is so important because it’s your damn job to be good. If someone comes along to buy an item or service no matter what it is, they came to you, for all you know they could be spending their last bit of money, they could have saved up for a really long time and now they’re giving you that money in exchange for service/item, they’re in a backhanded sort of way, paying you to care about them for the 5 minutes that it takes to complete the transaction. So if they ask you the same question 50 times, then you best be answering them 50 times, you draw them a picture, take them on a tour, you give them the best damn experience they have ever had, why? Because it’s your damn job, that’s why you’re being paid. Can you hear anger in my voice? Good, I’m angry.

I recently experienced something sad, this very old man walked into a discount store and seemed very lost, there’s a chance he may have been slightly hearing impaired as when he talked he shouted, I was stood in a queue to pay for my items and the man kept shouting “excuse me, excuse me miss, where is this item?” she answered him a few times and each time he would go off and then come back a few minutes later and shout again. After a few minutes the two cashiers got annoyed of repeating themselves and just ignored him. The shop was busy, granted, but it was a huge store, there were several employees just standing around witnessing the interaction, and the two cashiers were giggling between themselves laughing at how weird the old man was. I bit my tongue but I put my stuff down, as I got closer to the cashier, the man seemed to get a little more hysterical, he just really needed the item. I felt agitated and wanted so badly to say something, at one point one of the cashier mocked the old man and looked to me as if she wanted me to join in, I looked at her and shook my head, I felt so uncomfortable and angry and upset, why was no one doing anything? Why were the employees not helping that man, why was I staying silent despite how angry I had gotten? I left my stuff on the till and frowned at the cashier, as I made my way to the old man, a lady approached him. As it so happened he was with a health care assistant and she had managed to loose him. Seeing him reunite with her reassured me he’d be okay but the whole thing shook me.

It would not have taken long for one of the other employees to stop chatting and simply escort that man to the item he needed, maybe in that time they could have gotten talking and the employee might have discovered he was lost and his carer was out there somewhere looking for him. Because had she not found him, then imagine what could have happened.

Whilst that is an isolated incident, it does make me think about how there are a lot of things that an employee can do that is beyond their call of duty, now as long as it doesn’t put them or anyone in danger then why can’t they do that? They say hairdressers are slowly becoming peoples therapists because of just how much a person can share with them…I’m pretty sure my hairdresser didn’t qualify and get her certificates in order to listen to me describe why clowns give me nightmares, but it’s sure comforting to know she’s genuinely interested, and it makes me want to keep coming back to her.

I feel like when a customer enters your place of work, you should plaster that smile on your face. You should turn your game face on and you best be earning your money.

I’m truly sick of hearing people in retail or some sort of service provider complaining. No matter what job you have you’re going to get assholes, but that isn’t your call to make. You’re just going to make those who are good and loyal customers, those who have worked hard to save their money to spend in your store or whatever, uncomfortable and their treat will not be a good experience.

You don’t see a doctor deciding they’re not going to operate just because a patient is a dick. Why? Because it’s their job to help everyone. The patient relies on them. Much like your customers rely on you. Don’t like that fact? Then go get another job, there are plenty more people who would be grateful to have your job. Just be careful where you move on to, because I think you’ll find that the world is full of assholes and the customer grass is definitely not greener wherever you go.

I still feel shocked to see terrible customer service. At the same time I do understand that there are some customers, who do not deserve good customer service, but you must give it anywhere because that is what you’re paid to do. If you think that I’m wrong then you obviously do not understand customer service, you’re not there to pick and choose whom you are nice to. That’s just not how the world works, but you also should command a certain level of mutual respect for each other. Equally so you should treat every customer as if they’re coming in to give you their hard earned money and this is the biggest luxury they’ve had in years, whether it’s buying a small burger or buying a huge TV, remember a lot of us work hard for a living and parting with even the pennies can be tough.

I wish people would damn stop complaining about their job because we all know the majority of the U.K. even those on minimum wage, earn a hell of a lot more for doing a lot less than some other people in third world countries.

As in it’s so sick just how little people get paid in other countries, and yet I bet you’ll find plenty of them treating you so nicely and giving you good service because that’s how they earn a living, and then there’s me going into to Primark to buy some leggings I know I shouldn’t be wearing, and asking for some help from a 16 year old tweenager, who hates their job, hates their life, and is being paid 100 x more than the child labourers that make the clothes their saying…is that too much? It’s too much, I know, but seriously. I can’t say enough how people just need to think more about what their job is, what it means and how it helps people, even those they don’t think are affected. When someone is paying you to work, you should be grateful. No matter what you do, your customer service skills should always be in your head.

Treat every customer like they’re your favourite customer, give them a reason to smile today, you just don’t know how much that will mean to them. Whether your customer is a regular pub goer, a single mother who’s treating her kids to a McDonalds treat or the Queen, treat them with kindness, respect and care, every moment shouldn’t just be a paid for service/item, it should be a new experience.

Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday, and you proud everyday!

Peace and Love,

Jessy x

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