Customer service has undeniably come a long way. Not only does a customer have a right to a friendly greeting accompanied by a somewhat forced toothy smile but they are also able to ask for a foot-long list of special requirements – such as unpacking their bags in their car or requesting for a gluten-free/sugar-free/nut-free/perservative-free/that was baked by a man with a wooden leg on a very high mountain in Tibet donuts – for their very picky and sticky niece.
Yet due to the ever increasing fear of THE INTERNET where everything is cheaper and only a button-click and credit card details away, businesses are going ape-shit that they will lose a lot of money.
Frank: Oh man Harry this internet is a scary thing.
Harry: I know, did you see the photos of Jane tagged on Facebook? It’s going to give me nightmares. And to think I wanted to tap that.
Frank: No you idiot! Didn’t you see the news? Internet shopping is going to take our jobs!
Harry: Oh. Shit.
Despite not being very bright Frank and Harry realise that there is one crucial component to shopping that the internet businesses cannot offer – customer service. If customers feel like they are loved, nurtured and are offered a foot-rub every now and then they will keep coming back to the stores with their wallets. Sadly for the workers at the heart of customer service they are left without clear direction of where customer service is actually going – yes smile a little wider, please the customer etc but when should I stop giving the customer what they want? Do I really have to laugh at the sleazy-man in the Hawaiian shirt’s joke? That is why we need…
A Practical Guide to Customer Service by Shannon McKeogh
Customers are people and come in all shapes and sizes. People become customers when they walk into a shop and look like they are going to purchase something. Customers are generally treated better than people. Many shops have a niche sort of customer (florists for example attract more middle-age women with an influx of frantic males on Valentines Day) but some shops like a supermarket cater to all people who wish to consume food. This guide is written for all customers and how to speak to them.
1. Address your customer politely and try to make eye-contact although if they seem to be missing half a face possibly from a Siberian tiger attack it is best not to make too much eye-contact which will really be, staring. Staring is impolite
2. Ask them how their day was. If they ask you how your day is going answer vaguely “it’s going good thanks.” Do not reply honestly such as: “Well it was going alright until I had this really feral child come in and wee on the floor. Right where you’re standing actually.”
3. If you work in a supermarket do not make any comments about their purchases unless it seems friendly enough to do so, “Ahh spaghetti for dinner!” If they are buying a packet of condoms and a cucumber best to remain quiet.
4. If a customer is getting agitated from waiting in a queue or something isn’t right try and be as friendly as possible and apologise – even though it’s not really your fault. But know when to stop apologising, “I’m sorry you were born and had to go through with this terrible ordeal. You should’ve stayed in the womb.”
5. Although it is tempting, when serving a fireman do not ask them “have you saved many cats today?”
6. You may have to serve people you know and don’t particularly like – such as an old school teacher you had nightmares about in year two. If you can avoid serving them do so by ducking under the register or running away to “check what’s going in aisle 4..” If you do have to serve them remain calm, polite and hope they don’t remember you.
7. Sometimes customers can be nasty and say things that they don’t really mean like “you’re the worst person who has ever served me here before.” It is best to ignore these people and remember the saying “sticks and stones..” also especially don’t listen to topless raving lunatics who want to pay in ten cent pieces.
8. Although as a worker you can never defend yourself against nasty customers because “the customer is always right” you can have little wins such as placing their groceries further in the bay so they have to reach and strain their arm to get their goods. Or give them a lot of change so it weights down their wallet. Small wins.
9. Customers like to know that they are individuals and that they get special treatment to the other customers. It is good to comment and compliment a unique aspect of a customer such as “i really like that necklace!” and “I see you got your mole removed.”
10. And yes, you should laugh at the sleazy Hawaiian t-shirt man’s jokes. Unless it’s the end of the night and your manager has gone home and you’re not wearing a name-tag. Then you can get away with it.
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