jessica tholmer
August 04, 2013 8:00 am

Maybe you have heard of this little incident at an Apple store, or maybe you have even seen it, but after it went viral (thanks, Vine!), I have had some thoughts surrounding the situation. 

I am coming at this issue from two separate angles. I have (obviously) been a customer, a very frustrated one at times, but I have also been in customer service for ten years. Ten. Solid. Years. Believe that I have some stories.

I used to work in a coffee shop, and when I say “used to,” I mean literally up until last week. Coffee isn’t that big of a deal, or you would assume it isn’t, right? But finicky coffee customers can certainly get upset about basically anything, as I would assume customers of any sort of place can get.

Hey, we have all been there. I have had bad days and given bad customer service because of it. I have had mornings that I did not want to get out of bed that may have translated as rudeness to my paying customers. I have had days when I would rather not see a living human soul than to have to serve hundreds of people coffee in a fast paced environment…but you know what? Losing your cool is never okay.

That is typically very-anti-Jess-Tholmer advice, but in this particular instance–the land of customer service–I truly mean it.

Customer service is like a whole different world. Working customer service, or putting yourself into the role of “customer” is basically like deciding to kick it on Mars for an hour or eight. There are so many rules that you are not necessarily taught, but that you should definitely know! So I am here to teach you, and you should listen to me because 1) I’m a super genius 2) I just told you I have been doing this ish for ten years, it’s old hat at this point and 3) I am actually exceptionally great with human beings, and you will just have to trust me on that one because you don’t know me in real life, unless you are reading this and you DO know me in real life, and then you can go ahead and comment and be like, “yep, I’m vouching for her. She rules people skills.”

So here we go.

Customer Service Rules When You Are the Customer

  • It is literally never the employee’s fault. It is not the employee’s fault that the prices are high, that the product is out, that the…I don’t know, blueberry scones are dry? Never. Literally ever.
  • Never yell “hey” to get the attention of an employee.
  • Also, don’t snap at them.
  • Also, don’t ask them out. They are paid to be nice to you.
  • Tip if there is a tip jar.
  • Say thank you.
  • When asked “how are you?” don’t not answer. That’s super rude.
  • Never, ever, ever yell at an employee. For anything. Ever. In fact, in your life, yelling is usually pretty unnecessary.
  • Don’t threaten the life of the employee. (Happened to me only twice, it’s cool.)

Customer Service Rules When You Are Helping the Customer

  • Don’t say the f word to a customer. (How was I not fired? Good question.)
  • Don’t “educate the customer.” Over-explanation of insider information is not helpful to anyone.
  • Don’t visibly roll your eyes. You have a backroom for that.
  • When someone is overreacting, take deep breaths, try to talk them through it, but don’t take too much crap. No one should be allowed to berate you. 
  • Call your manager for something. Anything? Everything? They get paid more than you for a reason!

In all seriousness though, I genuinely do not think it is okay to mistreat other human beings. We are all in this big, tough world together and being unnecessarily mean to someone else just because they are a scapegoat for whatever the bigger issue is is just not acceptable adult behavior. I am all about writing letters to corporations, explaining frustrations eloquently, but I am not all about being mean to an employee that has done nothing wrong.

I mean, I will sass a mean server or barista right back, but I luckily live in a really nice part of the country where everyone is super sweet to each other. Also, when you lose your cool and start screaming at people, your validity immediately goes out the window and you just look like a lunatic. If you stay patient and kind, your complaint may actually get you what you need.

And always remember your karma. What goes around, comes around!

Featured image via pterosaurheresies.wordpress.com

Advertisement