Being a Better Customer & Supporting Service Workers

Being a Better Customer & Supporting Service Workers

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In a world still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, the strain placed on service workers is greater than ever before. Whether we call a customer service hotline and are left waiting or we receive the wrong item at our favorite fast food restaurant, it’s easy to let our frustrations get the best of us. We might roll our eyes, sigh, or snap at the salesperson with whom we are speaking. No matter how we might feel, it’s often best to take a deep breath and re-evaluate the ways in which we interact with service workers on a daily basis. Even if you think you’re an ideal customer, these tips just might spark some ideas of ways in which you, too, can better support service workers and salespeople. 



Separate the Person from Performance and Company Policy


Even those of us who believe we are fair and kind often get frustrated with the salespeople who uphold frustrating company policies. Take a deep breath and assure the salesperson that you understand that they are not responsible for the policy. Remember, too, that even good employees have bad days. If you received a product or service that was less than ideal, take a moment to consider whether or not it could have been an accident. Is this worker trying to do their best despite a heavy workload and stressful, fast-paced environment? If the employee appears to have been trying their best, try to have some sympathy for them and the situation at hand. Was this a mistake, rather than a malicious act? If so, do your best to resolve the situation in an understanding manner. 



Don’t Throw Around Threats


It’s fair to expect that a company meets the standards that it sets for itself. If, at a restaurant, your food isn’t properly prepared, talk to the staff and see if they can rectify the situation. Don’t, however, become a bully. Making unreasonable demands or threatening to report the company to the authorities will rarely get you what you want. Though you might be frustrated that your requests haven’t been met in the way that you’d like, kindness and patience are much more likely to help you reach an amicable resolution than angry threats.



Accept the Rules


If a service worker apologetically tells you that they can’t accept your expired coupon or change the terms of your contract, try to be understanding. Though your frustrations and feelings of disappointment may be justified, sometimes company policies can’t be altered. If this is the case, try to accept the situation without shooting the messenger. 



Assess What You Really Want


Sometimes, when frustrated, it’s easy to lose track of what we really want. Are you looking for a company to offer you a discount or replacement product, or are you simply looking to complain? Sometimes, you may find that what you really want is just an apology from the company or its employees. Instead of taking your complaints to social media, talk to the company and allow them to resolve the issue. If you’re simply looking to rant, consider kindly venting your frustrations to the customer service worker you are dealing with. You might find that the employee themselves is also frustrated with the situation or company policy, and may try to help you find a solution to your problem. In short, if you’re unhappy with a certain situation, assess your feelings before bringing your complaints to the company. If all you really want is an apology, it may be best to simply ask for it. 



Follow Store Policies


Service workers are often most frustrated by customers who, whether out of ignorance or laziness, simply refuse to follow store rules. If you change your mind about an item you’d like to purchase at the grocery store, either return it the section you got it from or give it to the cashier at the register. Don’t simply set a jar of yogurt down in the toilet paper aisle! If you’re at a restaurant that requires you to put a tray away and separate your trash, don’t simply leave your tray on a table and trash on the floor. Though these tips sound like common sense, you’ve likely seen these types of rules broken everywhere you go. When employees are working overtime to clean up the messes of uncaring customers, their energies and sympathies are quickly worn thin. By being mindful of store policies and following rules, you can make the lives of service workers everywhere easier.



Communicate Clearly


Oftentimes, conflicts between customers and employees occur as a result of misunderstandings. By communicating clearly and effectively, however, you can avoid miscommunications and create a more pleasant experience for both you and the service worker who is assisting you. When placing an order or speaking with a customer service representative, for instance, it may be best to say, “I have all of my information here. What should I read to you first?” In this way, the service worker can lead the conversation, entering information as is most convenient for them. In this way, information can be entered into or retrieved from computer systems more effectively, reducing the chances that your information will be entered incorrectly. When you are finished interacting with the employee, feel free to confirm what you have been told. By ensuring that dates, amounts, and prices, for instance, are correct, you can reduce the chances of having to correct errors after the fact. By communicating your information in a way that is most convenient for the employee, you can make their lives easier and better ensure that you receive the service you desire. 



Be Vocal In Expressing Your Gratitude


The average customer simply goes through transactions with service workers without putting much thought into what they say or how they act. Though “please” and “thank you” are a good start, when these words are simply exchanged as a routine courtesy, they don’t hold much weight. Instead of simply going through the motions, try engaging with service workers in a more mindful way. Put your phone away, hold eye contact with them, and smile. If you’re a regular, ask their name. Ask them how their day has gone. Consider giving particularly friendly employees a well-deserved tip, or call the store manager to let them know that a certain employee has gone above and beyond in serving you. Post a positive review online, mentioning specific employees and positive experiences you have had with the business. Simply saying “I appreciate you and the work that you do,” is often enough to put a smile on a service worker’s face. 


As you move throughout your daily life, keep these tips in mind. The ways in which you interact with service workers shouldn’t be that different from how you interact with others in your life! Being patient, understanding, and sympathetic can strengthen your relationships with not only service workers, but also with friends, colleagues, and loved ones. Ultimately, we live in a world in which we are constantly serving and being served by others. By uplifting others and treating them in the ways in which we would like to be treated, we can make the world a better and kinder place.




Photo: / Manuel Milan

Editor, 04/08/2021