Revisiting the Blog: Advice When Dealing With Customer Service (Or Anyone Providing You A Service)

(CS: This was written back on February 24, 2011. I was working at the front desk for my dad's doctor's office at the time, which is what motivated this piece. To show how time just keeps moving on, my dad retired this past June.)

Wednesday was an absolutely dreadful time at the ol' day job.  It was the equivalent of a giant mutant roach consuming 10 soft and fluffy pandas, then spitting their unconsumed bones directly into my crotch, while seven deer tick plunge into my ear in order to start a dance party.  Yes, it was just that kind of day.  A inhumane consuming of poor and innocent pandas and unwarranted assault on my body parts kind of day.  Or at least, the equivalents of those things.  This atrocious day did inspire me with bits of advice on how to deal with those in customer service or who are delivering you some type of service (essentially the many dozens of people you likely will come across throughout your day).

Technology has not progressed to the point that androids or robots or talking pray mantis are able to provide customer service for you.  There is a 99.9% chance that the figure behind the desk or on the phone or coming to your house is an actual real life person.  Just like you.  They have feelings and emotions and pride, and basically, a lot of the things you have too.  So, before you put on your Jerk Hat, it is important to remember you're likely dealing with a person who might actually take offense to your rampage of tomfoolery.

Before you decide to be incredibly witty and hilarious, decide if the customer service representative knows who you are and understands your amazing brand of humour.  If this person does not know you, then make sure you are very clear that you're joking.  Because the failure of witty is asshole.

When a customer service person says please hold, they likely mean, "I am really busy at this moment with something urgent but will try to get to you as quickly as possible" rather than "I am going to go to the back and sip martinis and then return to you so that you can tear into me about how awful I am at customer service and how I wasted your magical and golden time that is more glorious than unicorn farts."

When you're told that there isn't any available spots or bookings on that day, it likely means that there actually isn't any bookings rather than it meaning the entire staff is having a pool party in the storage room (there also isn't likely a pool in the storage room).

Your emergency is exactly that, your emergency.  It is not the fault of the customer service rep that you decided to wait two weeks and ask for the service a day before it needs to be accomplished.  Yes, the thing that needs to be repaired or updated or completed is super ultra urgent to you, but so are the 60 other things from other people that the customer service person is required to deal with (and were actually booked ahead of time rather than 20 minutes before they're due).

The customer service person has their own life which may be going about as awesome as shit rain, yet they didn't decide to rant and rave about it to you.  They likely don't really need to hear about how your life is a flaming feces ball to the eye ball.

99.9% of customer service folks don't own magic wands, and instead will need to rely on their own skills and abilities to properly serve you.  It takes a lot longer than the waving of magic wands, but this also isn't Cinderella.

Customer service people sometimes make mistakes, just like almost every single other person in the world.  It is important to remember that you are very likely to make  a mistake once or twice or a hundred times in your life, and thus when you make that mistake, you really hope others are willing to cut you some slack rather than open your head up with a rusty can opener and feed your brain to a pack of rabid sea urchins.  Seriously, if you rage against people who make an honest mistake then you have now opened yourself up to harsh criticism to your own honest failures.

When a customer service person on the phone asks you to repeat your name or to spell your name, they aren't saying, "I am a mindless butt zombie that doesn't know simple, common names and I deserve to be brow beaten for having the nerve to ask your mightiness to repeat yourself" but instead probably mean, "This office has five other people on the phone, there is three loud printers going off, a fax machine singing in my ear and a pair of cycling grizzlies, and so it is really hard to hear you when you mumble into your armpit."

Astonishing fact:  A customer service rep is not more likely to give you stellar service if you scream about how they are useless and pelt them in the head with your wallet.  I know, this is shocking for some.

"Customer is always right" does not mean "Customer has the right to be a raging ass to people who are just trying to make a living to support their family."

Sometimes it is okay to be patient and to accept the fact that maybe even a customer service rep could be having a bad day.

Customer service rep have not downloaded directly into their brain everything there is to know about their job field and may actually either have to say "I don't know" or ask someone else.  If you happen to know everything there is about your job field, then I really hope you enjoy your work of picking up dog shit.

It is a job just like you have, and it has its great moments (mortgage money!) and their downsides.  You can always help in minimizing the downsides by not being a self entitled walking cup of possum urine.