Working on the front lines in a customer facing role feels like a crucial life skill that everyone should experience at some point during their working lives. It gives you a certain viewpoint and helps lead to empathy, patience, and kindness towards those workers in the future. For normal people anyways. How could you not want to be kind to a customer service representative if you’ve had the chance to be on the receiving end of the call? Especially knowing how unpleasant some customers are to deal with.
Let’s clear the air and set one thing straight. Rarely is it even the customer service worker’s fault. Did they break the product? No. Did they send out a marketing email promo that doesn’t work? No. Did they go on the coffee run and get your order wrong? No. Did they decide to completely pivot the business model screwing over current customers? No. Did they decide to acquire a rival company? No. Did they make empty promises during the sale? No. Did they fail to complete a thorough product test before shipping the update to production causing a major bug? No. Did they conjure up a storm that knocked out power, and thus the Internet, causing you to lose access to unsaved changes? No. Did they deliver the shipment in a careless way causing damage? No.
I could go on, but I feel like the main point here is very clear: the person you are talking to is merely a middle man attempting to help you, despite it not being their fault. Saints. Granted, you usually can’t go straight to the source, which, honestly, is the smartest thing companies ever implemented. That doesn’t make some of the responses warranted, though. But this post is not about how some of us really need to calm down. No, it’s about what working in the customer service industry teaches an individual.
Mute Buttons are Your Best Friend
Has there ever been a time where you’ve responded to someone without really thinking about what you’re saying, or the potential professional implications of those words? The mute button exists. Use the mute button. Think of it as a trial run. It could save your life.
Some Things Need to Run Their Course
Remember that time when you were really angry and summarized all of your feelings into one, concise sentence? Me neither, because that’s not a thing. Angry is to rambling as white is to rice. They go together – wait out the storm.
Patience Doesn’t Always Work
Patience is a virtue. And Oreos are delicious. Doesn’t mean they’re healthy. There are situations where being passive is not the right choice. Put your best fake smile on and go with blunt honesty. Don’t let the bulldogs walk over you because you appear willing to listen indefinitely.
Some People Are Just Sour Patch Kids
We all know the human Sour Patch Kids. The ones who are sour at first and absolutely ruin your appetite for no reason. Like, I don’t know who peed in your Cheerios this morning, but I did not do, whatever it is you’re upset about, to you. Your complaint isn’t even about our company.
Life is Short, Move On
Not everyone is worth your memory. Deal with it in the moment, then make like a goldfish and forget. Move on! You’ll be happier.
Sometimes It’s Better To Not Say Anything
Would you jump in front of a moving train? I certainly hope not. Know when you need to simply put your headset on the desk and SURF BUZZFEED for a bit until the anger train finally comes to a stop. If you get invested in an article and simply can’t return to the question, ask how it makes them feel to start that steam engine again.
You Won’t Always Have an Answer
There will come a point where you are no longer all-knowing. Where you will need to go find the answer and circle back. Don’t be disappointed, this buys you time and teaches you something! Might as well kill two birds with one stone. Maybe hot head will have cooled down in the meantime.
Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, And Dodge
When in doubt, follow the 5 D’s of dodgeball: dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge. Throw the department who put you in this mess under the bus. Did I spit on your pizza? No, that must have been an oversight from the cooking staff – I will follow up with them right away. Who me? No you must mean that team over there. Deflect for the win … and for your sanity. Besides they won’t be able to contact the real problem team to confirm.
Alright, jumping off my pedestal for now. If you know someone who would enjoy this post and want to share it with them, that would be awesome. Sharing is caring, after all. Don’t forget to subscribe to get these in your inbox twice weekly and follow TRP on Twitter for frequent musings. Thanks for reading!
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