If you think about your average day, you probably interact with customer service representatives several times. These are people from baristas to call center employees, who are paid to make you happy with a smile plastered on their faces. A large portion of our interactions with customer service representatives are because of a negative experience, which already sets the tone for a call or meeting.
I have held several customer-facing service roles since high school, ranging from a tennis shop manager, to an account manager, and most recently, a bartender at the Austin City Limits music festival. I’d like to think I’ve seen a lot when it comes to customers, both positive and negative.
It’s difficult to reconcile the fact that you’re getting paid to provide a product or a service with the bratty, demanding customer in front of you. Some people just do not know how to appropriately interact with other human beings.
Here are some ways to not be a total asshole when you’re interacting with someone in the customer service industry:
If you’re paying for something in cash, unfold the bills. Don’t throw them on the counter, particularly if it’s wet. Don’t use your phone during a transaction. If you’re paying with a credit card, pay attention throughout the entire transaction. Depending on the role, customer service people are interacting with hundreds of customers each day, and there is nothing more disheartening than someone who is downright disrespectful.
Do not yell or curse at them.
This (hopefully) goes without saying, but there are very few situations that require screaming at a stranger who is serving you. A faulty product or overcharge is not our fault, so please do not take your anger out on us.
Do not make passes at them.
Customer service people do not exist to be ogled at. While it’s nice to hear something like, “You have a beautiful smile,” lines are crossed once we start getting told that we’re beautiful or hot. It’s weird and uncomfortable and there’s no nice way to respond. It’s also very rocky territory, legally speaking.
Do not offend them.
Customer service roles have a reputation for being lower-level roles that don’t necessarily require a lot of qualifications. We are not below you, and we certainly do not deserve to be treated as such. Unless you’re extremely unpleasant, we will do everything in our power to rectify the situation. If you are unpleasant, we will do whatever it takes to make the interaction as short as possible.
If you’re drunk or otherwise impaired, keep your hands, food particles and your sweat to yourself.
Pretty self-explanatory. While I was bartending, a girl with nachos in her hands and her hair tried to buy a drink from me, and I ended up with nachos on myself. That is unpleasant. Respect the personal boundaries of servers, cashiers, and bartenders. Don’t touch them or sweat on them or spill your nachos on them.
Remember that they are people too.
We all have bad days. Sometimes it’s nearly impossible to deal with an angry customer without getting worked up or upset. As a customer, you are entitled to the product or service that you are paying for, but keep in mind that those in customer service roles are people too.