Monthly Archives: September 2008

Movies!

Let’s go back to a simplier time when baseball was ruled by racism and cheating.

Cobb

Eight Men Out

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Surviving Customer Service 4

If you’d like a copy of your very own and not wait for it to unfold slowly, wander on over to my store to get one.

33 1/3 RESPONSES EVERY CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE NEEDS
There will be many situations you’ll have as a Customer Service Representative where you’ll rely on stock responses. Many of these will become so second nature to you they’ll taste slightly metallic and scalding when they flow from your mouth. As if you’ve placed the gun of lunacy between your lips and shot the bullet of despair into your cranium.

By our scientifically sound estimation, this situation will occur between eight and thirty-seven thousand times a day.

Because of that, you’ll have many stock responses stuck in your brain. These responses will never leave your brain. Years after you’ve run from the customer service industry you’ll find yourself screaming, ‘Would you like fries with that?’ at inopportune times. Such as when making love.

And, trust me, that’s not the perfect time for fries.

Sadly, we’ve found the phrases passed down from Corporate just don’t cover every situation. If you believe Corporate the only things you’ll ever say to a Customer are:

“Thank you for patronizing our fine establishment.”

“I’ll be glad to assist you in any way you see fit.”

“Will that be cash or credit?”

Oh, if life on the floor was so simple!

Where’s the response when some idiot’s kid has wiped their snot and ice cream encrusted hands all over your pants?

“Would you like paper or plastic?” Just doesn’t seem to fit the situation, does it?

That’s why we’ve put together responses that can be used during the varied and annoying situations you’ll find yourself in to get your desired result: get fired.

“Congratulations! Your name has just been put in the running for moron of the week!”

“Thank you for coming. But I reserve my greater thanks for your leaving.”

“That’s the largest size we carry. May I suggest you try the Imax dealer down the street?”

“I’m sorry you feel that way. But just think how bad you’d feel if you could read my mind.”

“Let me get my manager. I want to prove I don’t kill indiscriminately.”

“Yes, that is store policy. We also don’t have to wash our hands after using the restroom.”

“Trust me, this product is more than a mouth-breather like you could handle.”

“Let me get that for you. Could you take the stick out of your ass so I can reach it?”

“I’m sorry, I can’t do that. Well, I could but you’re too much of a jerk for me to want to.”

“I must disagree. My boobs are quite competent.”

“Could you repeat that? And this time use vowels.”

“It’s customers like you that make my heroin habit possible.”

“I had another customer with the exact complaint. I walked away from them too.”

“I’m so proud to be helping you. You’ve taken up so much of my time I’m eligible for retirement.”

“I’m sorry, this is the bitches only section. Egomaniacal assholes is two sections over.”

“If we had any more in stock there’d be no reason for you to be bothering me now, would there?”

“I agree! That is no way to run a company. Do you want to flog me here or stop by your house at, say, eight?”

“The customer is always right just like the asshole is always smelly.”

“I’m glad you came in today. I needed a face to put to my spiraling depression.”

“I’ll be happy to assist you. Would that be lethal injection or a nine millimeter to the base of the skull?”

“Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to serve you. Sadly, we don’t serve strychnine.”

“I’m sorry your wait was interminable but how do you think it was for me? Waiting all that time just to find out how much shit you were going to sling at me.”

“I think that’s perfect for you. Now, with one glance, everyone will know you’re an idiot.”

“Let me see if I can find someone who can help you without laughing in your face.”

“Thank you for making this job easy to quit.”

“Are you really a moron or do you just play one in stores?”

“I want to thank you for making death seem such a bright option.”

“I’m not refusing to help you. I’m ignoring you. That’s totally different.”

“I hope you had a pleasant experience because I’d hate it if we both had a miserable time.”

“I apologize for my inattentiveness but your presence has put me into a boredom induced coma.”

“I’ll be glad to help you bring this to your car if it gets you out of here quicker.”

“I’d be glad to help you but I’m not a licensed therapist.”

“If I did that for you I’d have to do it for everyone else and I’m not in the mood to screw so many people today.”

“Fuck you!”
(as perfect a response as this is, it’s a third of a response at best. Feel free to improvise your own ending to make sure you get your point across.)

If you’d like a copy of your very own and not wait for it to unfold slowly, wander on over to my store to get one.

Fitting Tribute

As you’re probably aware, one of the most storied stadiums in all of baseball has closed it’s doors. So, to pay our respects to the history that has unfolded there, we scoured the internet for interminable seconds (almost 37!) until we found what we feel is a fitting tribute:

http://rockinsteady.wordpress.com/

Failure

A guy came in with his kid. They were dressed fairly similarly in wrestling t-shirts, baggy, low-hanging shorts, a Marlboro cologne. They’re explaining their predicament. From their vernacular, I can tell this isn’t the first time in this specific predicament. They had the lingo down pat.

Although it’s not their fault, not their doing, or any other not that deflects blame from them, they are in a predicament that must be dealt with now because,

“This is the last day.”

This is another curious fact about people in this predicament. They always come to me on the last day. As if, after months of hearing the phrase,

“Get the fuck out by this date!”

They feel there is going to be a reprieve or change of heart. Trust me, that never happens. So that’s why they come to visit me as a last minute bailout. And also the reason why so many people come in here angry/flustered/stressed.

I’m talking to the guy who continues to go over why his predicament is not his doing. Okay, fine. I understand. You landlord is an ass because you haven’t paid your rent in months. Yeah, what a bastard! Can we get to the point where you give me money then, in a few months, I begin the task of chasing you for money?

The guy continues and then he uses a phrase I’ve only heard uttered in movies, during interviews with athletes, or by people who watch movies about athletes (by that I mean wrestling fans),

“Failure is not an option.”

I tear off his copy of the lease, hand it to him and say,

“Nope. With you it’s part of the standard package.”

Surviving Customer Service 3

If you’d like a copy of your very own and not wait for it to unfold slowly, wander on over to my store to get one.

SERVICING CUSTOMERS
Now that you understand who you’ll be bitching about and to whom, we’re going to cover the two major problems you’ll have during your long and torturous, I mean, happy and peppy career in customer service.

1) Service

2) Customers

What other industry is named after its biggest drawbacks? No, not even trash collector. After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and many people collect what others would and do call trash.

But, in our industry, customers are nothing more than horrible, fetid creatures bent on snapping our wills and servicing them just doubles our pain. Even though they know we hate them that never stops them from barging in with their stupidity and worthlessness. As a matter of fact, there was a widely regarded study done by the Association of Service and Support (ASS) which concluded that our loathing only serves to empower them and draws them closer to us like shit to toilet paper.

Although ASS’ study makes a strong case for the invincibility of customers we are not without protection. If we take the old sports adage that the best offense is a good defense we can beat them at their own game. And their game, which you should never forget, is to force us to do everything they say and blame us for how it turns out.

The first thing you must assess when a customer approaches, is what ‘type’ of question they are asking. Although you may assume a question is a question is a question, nothing can be further from the truth.

For example, a customer finally hunts you down like a wounded quail and, while waving the item wildly, asks,

“How much is this 83-speed ‘relaxation’ massager?”

You first thought shouldn’t, but of course will be,

“What? The one by eight foot iridescent orange sign with the glowing price hanging above where you got this from isn’t visible enough, Chumbrain?”

Your first thought shouldn’t be about the customer at all. It should be about you because you must determine what type of question that is. In the above example, that’s a ‘Fact Question.’

A ‘Fact Question’ is one that can easily be answered and instantly corroborated by things such as, price tags, signage, brochures, and these little self explanatory pieces of waste called Fact Tags.

Of course, none of those useful devices will help because they failed (read: are too stupid) to find them. An 8-foot orange glowing banner with a fan slapping it around like a red headed stepchild screaming:

would be missed. So it’s up to us to explain the obvious. As always. Ain’t we the luckiest?

It is also a fact that we can stand there, advertising flyer with a picture and the price of the item in hand, and the customer will still make a case that the flyer at home had the item for eighty-seven cents less. The worst part is they truly believe that, out of the millions of flyers printed and distributed, theirs has a different price than the one inches in front of them.

Yeah, we once believed we’d have pleasant lives. I guess we’re all a little delusional. At least we’ve come to grips with it. Let’s take a moment and bless the inventor of alcohol.

After you’ve repeated yourself numerous times and steadfastly maintain the accuracy of your answer, all to no avail, there truly is only one thing left to say,

“Wait right here. I’ll get the manager.”

Oh sure, some see that as a cowards way out. Those tend to be people who’ve never experienced the pleasure of standing in front of a muumuu clad denizen of a lithium bottle, surrounded by her cloven hoofed tribe, who can’t decide between the ugly statue of something that could be a wolverine breast feeding a monkey or the ugly statue that, due the abstract nature of the piece, looks like a naked gerbil beer bottle opener (at least that’s what we used it for).

After spending a good chuck of your life servicing customers until you feel your frontal lobe quiver and slip down your nasal passage spilling onto your name tag, you’ll take any escape that appears.

The reason saying you’re going to get the manager works when encountering a ‘Fact Question’ is due to the fact that the customer, after a frustrating 8.3 millisecond wait, will become so irritated at the length of inattention they will place the item down and storm haughtily from the aisle and, if your co-workers are lucky, out of the store.

It’s actually very Zen like. If a customer bitches yet no Customer Service Representative is there to be bothered are they really shopping?

Even after experiencing an untenable situation such as the ‘Fact Question’ it’s a far simpler and glossed over situation than the other major question situation.

The other question resides in a gray area. It’s known as the ‘Land Mine Question.’ It’s a question with no definite answer written inches from the customer’s face. It’s a question that supposes:

1) the Customer Service Representative has intimate knowledge of the product and it’s uses

2) the Customer Service Representative has intimate knowledge of the customers distinct likes and dislikes

3) the Customer Service Representative is stupid enough to offer their opinion

It is a question such as,

“Do these pants make my ass look big?”

This is the granddaddy of ‘Land Mine Questions.’ It’s a question that, if you are even considering formulating a response to, you should carve out your tongue with a potato peeler (aisle 7) right now.

Although you may be tempted to answer a ‘Land Mine Question’ (in case you’re interested, the answer to the above question is, ‘Yes, they do, you careening pork sausage of death.’) due to innate helpfulness or desire for a bump in commissions, crush that desire like the job does your soul.

The mere utterance of a truncated consonant, whether shaded truth or obvious lie, will send you spiraling into a world of unimaginable pain and repercussions.

The problems arise due to the fact that, as a Customer Service Representative, it is your job to service the customer. You have a sworn duty to respond to any and all requests from this person who has such low self-esteem they’re seeking the opinion of a total stranger who hates them and wishes them a speedy farewell.

What to do?

Answer them with a response forged over the years in countless skirmishes on the slippery slope of stupid inquires:

Change the direction of the attention.

For instance, using the earlier sample,

“Do these pants make my ass look big?”

To maintain a professional persona and sense of self-preservation, your response would be,

“These sunglasses match those pants perfectly!”

The customer, easily distracted by the shiny and inane, will forget about the snugness of the pants on their fleshy behind, and consider the loveliness of the new found object.

This procedure works for any type of a ‘Land Mine Question.’ The trick is to move their attention from their primary point of interest (in the sample: ass) to a point as far away as possible (eyes).

If a customer asks a ‘Land Mine Question’ about, for instance, sunglasses your response could go as far down as their shoes. They ask about shoes? How about a hat? You can have a lot of fun if they ask about a belt. The choices there are endless! Be creative! Try to sell them a snorkel.

Be warned that ‘Land Mine Questions’ aren’t asked only about clothes. That would be too logical. Just spewing their cursed feeble-mindedness on clothiers. But no, every Customer Service Representative will hear the babble of ‘Land Mine Questions’ like an emotion-drowning river every single day. So remember to smile!

They’ll ask if a tennis racket will propel them onto the pro tour; or if a specific shade of eggshell will match a bedroom set you’ve never seen; or whether they’d enjoy the Filete de Salmon al Horno. All you can do is take a deep breath, look around and distract them with a salad fork. Stabbing them if you feel the situation necessitates.

Sure, you know the racket is of high quality, the paint will stick to the wall and the salmon delicious but, how can you predict the likes, dislikes or delusions of strangers?

So gently, smoothly, and with effortless grace lie. Sure, it’s underhanded and unhelpful but it’s not like you invited them to test your telepathy. It’s not like you invited them to talk to you either but there’s little you can do about that.

After all, you unlocked the door.

If you’d like a copy of your very own and not wait for it to unfold slowly, wander on over to my store to get one.

Be Reasonable

A gentleman bursts into the office and, without greeting of any kind, gets to the point.

“You have to stay open late. My people aren’t going to be here until after you close.”

“That’s not going to happen.”

I could tell by his reaction he was unprepared for such a definitive response. I’m also sure it is why the gentleman’s ire hits a boiling point. I explain that we close at specific times for specific reasons. I like to think of it as my bosses brilliant plan to limit my actual contact with paying customers. The less time spent with them the fewer paper cuts he’ll get reaching into the complaint box.

“I’m not asking.” The gentleman attempts the subtle approach. “I’m telling you.”

It’s with this demand he gives me the evil eye. I always like to see the evil eyes of others. I know they do it because it works. It must or why would they do it? That one time it works makes the six billion other times you did it worthwhile? No, there has to be a percentage that makes it a viable option.

“You are a sweet talker, aren’t you?”

“I’m not kidding. You’re going to stay open if I have to reach over that counter and make you.”

I’m sure most reasonable people would be thinking, ‘Fuck! I wouldn’t even want this asshole here during scheduled working hours.” And they would be right.

But, as we are here to establish, I’m not very reasonable.

“That’s your one, sir.”

“My one what?”

“Threat. I’m good like that. I give everyone a freebie.”

I could tell the gentleman didn’t think I was taking him seriously because he said,

“You’re not taking me seriously.”

“It doesn’t matter how I take you. What matters is your demand, which in and of itself is unwarranted, will not be heeded.”

The gentleman did not like this response either.

“What if I refuse to leave?”

“I will call the police to have you arrested for trespassing.”

“What if I beat the shit out of you?”

“I will add assault to the complaint.”

The gentleman begins to call me all kinds of colorful, schoolyard names.

“I will drive the fucking truck through the fucking door if it’s not open.”

“Breaking and entering. Destruction of property. I’m not a cop but I’m sure they’ll be able to add a few other charges to your list.”

It is now where the gentleman attempts a change in tactic. It’s the old, never change a winning game, always change a losing one. He begins to tell me it’s been a stressful few days, how nothing’s gone right, how this and that is the cause of his aberrant behavior. But never once did he apologize for using me as a backboard for his bad luck. Funny how that works.

“Be reasonable.”

Why is it people who ask you to be reasonable are usually the most unreasonable? Funny how that works.

“If, by reasonable, you mean stay open after our scheduled working hours, the answer is no.”

“Fuck you! You little fucking asshole.”

I love my life! Truly, I do. Who else gets to experience people going from ass to contrite to ass in 3.7 seconds on a daily basis? I’m actually surprised more chests don’t implode from the vacuum created.

I take a look at the big clock on the wall behind him. I notice the big hand is pointing straight up and, do you know what that means boys and girls? That’s right! Asshole Chris gets to walk from behind the counter, slap up his closed sign, and lock the door! Oh, happy day!

“What the fuck are you doing?” The gentleman screams while I’m shutting off the front lights.

“I’m closing the business for the day.” I walk behind the counter and stop in front of him. “What that means is, it’s time for you to leave.”

“I’m not fucking going anywhere.”

“I beg to differ. Now it’s my turn to make ultimatums. You either turn and exit the building right now or I press a little button and summon people who’s job it is to make people exit.”

“I’ll blow up this fucking building with you in it!”

“Cool! That’ll mean my girlfriend will get an awesome insurance check. I now must remind you that that’s your second threat. I only give away one. Now, to prove I’m reasonable, I will give you one minute to regain your composure and exit this building.”

Now it’s a standoff. Standoffs are so stupid. Especially for whomever doesn’t have a button to summon the authorities. The gentleman paces back and forth in the waiting area. I can tell he’s going through all the options he thinks he has. He finally stops pacing, turns, exhales and says.

“Come on, be reasonable.”

“No, it’s time for you to be reasonable because your minute is up.”

I reach my hand under the counter. He steps back while mumbling and walking toward the door.

“I hope you still have someplace to work tomorrow.”

“Me too! I so love our customers.”

Being A Man

A kid was asking all his father’s male friends what makes a man. He’d been getting the standard responses: be loyal, take care of family, don’t leave your kid in a car even if it’s not all that hot, you know, the standards.

I was reading over some of the things and, having met most of his father’s friends, knew they were lying out of their asses. The guy who JUST got out of prison for assault said, ‘Listening, being patient, and always being there for your family.’

I guess if you’re in prison you’re family knows you’re there and, if they visit, you have no option but to listen patiently.

The kid was sitting there waiting for me to say something. What am I going to say? Being a stand-up guy was covered, not carousing had been covered, it seemed as if someone even quoted the boy scout oath.

“What makes a man?” The kid asked. I sat there and looked at the kid for a few seconds before saying,

“Knocking a man out with your fists, getting a couple of concussions, spending one night in jail.” I nod my head as they kid writes it down. “And if you can accomplish it all in one night, you’ll save a lot of time.”

Why do people let their kids talk to me?