Surviving Customer Service 2

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.


Just as with your Co-Workers, Customers come in many sizes, shapes, and smells. All of them horrid. I put the blame of customer expectation and sense of infallibility directly on the lips of Harry Gordon Selfridge. Who, you may be asking, the hell is that?

Good old Harry is the man who unleashed the phrase that feeds every sloth-toed monster with their bad-breath and mismatched coolots waving a two dollar piece of plastic ware over their head because you said (even though you didn’t) there was one in thistle in the back so, when it turns out they don’t even make it in thistle (whatever that is), they’ll have your job!

And the phrase Selfridge unleashed to ruin our lives is,

“The customer is always right.”

There is no more deadly a phrase for a customer to have. They don’t think of it as a slogan created to fool people into thinking they had some modicum of intelligence while being fleeced by the maw of a ravenous corporation. They consider it an unalienable right. Like two for one drink night or wet t-shirt contests ending in fistfights.

Those five little words have caused more aggravation to a customer service representative than all the mandatory full store inventories combined.

I decree that from this day forward all crappy customers with their impossible demands and infantile reaction to any hoop not jumped through is to call them a selfridge. I think it’s only fair.

Knows everything about every product made in the history of mankind. The Know-It-All is appalled at your lack of knowledge and how easily you fall into the patter ‘the man’ has force fed you. They will spend most of your time together explaining just how little you know.

The only way to counteract such an imbecile is to stroke their ego by marveling in the wonder that is their font of useless information. I know that sounds like the antithesis to the teachings of this book but, believe me, it is not.
Dealing with all customers is a Zen experience. I’m not for a moment saying you should be calm while all around you is stagnant with ass. I am saying use the customers arrogance and stupidity against them.

If the customer commands that the ZLRXPD-7 is vastly superior to the ZLRXPC-7 who are you to argue? Embrace the inner idiot, stroke the vastly inflated sense of worth, and they will go back to their mother’s basement quicker than you can say ‘commission check.’

Insta-Pal is nefarious. It’s a smile and a laugh that holds a conniving, controlling, freak whose only real objective is to hang out with you while you do your job. They’ll let other customers go first because, well, they’re just hanging out chatting with their buddy. The rule of thumb in this situation is if they’re more touchy-feely then your lover and more open with personal comments than a drunk priest, this is a very dangerous customer who should be avoided at best and tasered in extreme cases.

No matter how much you do (up to and including chewing the food for them) or prove they can, all on their own, use the spork, they will always find one more thing to keep you in their service.

The Helpless customer is also unable to make a decision between green and greener without a gathering of the tribe. The sad part is, most of the time, you’re the only member.

Your most valuable weapon against a Helpless customer is the Helpless customer. Their inaction will cause them to make a rash decision and pick the green one when everyone knows the greener one was best or their level of frustration will grow to such a magnitude that they will flee from the store in the middle of a phantom panic attack.

The moment you begin to answer their question they begin to ask another question that is, most times, about an entirely different product and, quite often, in a totally foreign, often made up, language.

Although the Multitasker feels they are the most productive member of humanity ever to strap on a colostomy bag, the fact is they are as useless as a bag full of popsicles at a bonfire.

They’re so busy being busy they often wear themselves out before you ever know what they came in for. If you can remain still long enough more often than not the Multitasker will find your inaction cause enough to storm out to another store. Remember the long standing customer service representatives motto (which I’m making up right now): It is better to have patience than be a patient.

The Ex-CSR feels your pain because they’ve been there. The problem is they’re always busier, less compensated, in more hazardous conditions, had to complete a sale while the store was ablaze.

That’s why they feel the need, no, the responsibility, to tell you not only how they would have handled a transaction but how they could have done it so much more efficiently. Gawd help if you don’t thank them at the conclusion (if it ever arrives) of their transaction. They will find your manager and have you written up and they will stand there until each of their complaints is transcribed. In triplicate. Because, damnit, in their day that’s how customer service was done!

The Self Important will shove past anyone in line, even when you’re handing them their change, to get your attention. If you don’t engage immediately they will, in a voice loud enough to drown out all other sounds for a block, explain to you just how important they are and just what important people they knew who will, with one text message, appear out of the ether to fire you on the spot.

Remember that the Self Important customer lives in a world of delusion where only they think they have clout. I’m not saying they don’t know the person whose name they are dropping, it’s just that, exactly like you, they also believe this person is a gigantic tool.

When a Self Important customer is in the middle of their rant just remember that later you’ll be scraping gum  off the floor while they’re regaling their friends about giving the what for to you.

At least no one will think you’re a tool.

The Do-Gooder will tell you a sweater is unfolded in aisle six and, even after you’ve acknowledged them and explained you will take care of it, will stand there until you disengage whatever it is you are doing (even if it means climbing down from the ladder and leaving a banner waving in the air conditioning) to handle this urgent task.

But don’t get the idea they’re done helping! Don’t be that silly. Once they have you they’ll unfurl a list of things they just can’t wait to tell you they’ve found amiss in the store. If you’re lucky (which you will be) they’ll have a list!

The Do-Gooder is also not afraid to help you with other customers. Even if their help is either to repeat what you’ve just said or to venture into long-winded stories about the time the friend of someone they met once at bingo used this product and died a horrible death. The fact the person got hit by a bus and had nothing to do with the item at hand is often a fact overlooked.

The Business Genius could not only do your job better than you but also your bosses, their bosses, their bosses and their wives tennis instructors.

The amazing part is that each and every one of their fool-proof business ideas has the curious fact that it encompasses an issue that directly impacts them. If they have their face pressed against the door at 9:01 their grand scheme would involve longer hours. If they had to wait for a Customer Service Representative to remove the talons of another customer their solution would be to have more people on the floor. For the life of them they can’t see how you, a person in this very industry, couldn’t figure that out for yourself.

The Dicker is a customer only trying to get the best deal for them and their loved ones. Sounds like a good thing, huh? We all want the best deal possible. But the Dicker takes it to an entirely new level. A level deep inside the earth where only slugs and ex-mobsters reside.

The moment the price is offered the Dicker will pretend you said it was not only free but with a forty-thousand dollar weekly renewable rebate. No matter how often you say,

“No, the burger is eight-nine cents like it says on the menu. Just like it was when you were here yesterday.”

They will continue to push, prod, cajole for any sliver of a deal way after most people would have accepted the fact that this is a non-negotiable transaction, paid their bill and gone forth to lead happy and productive lives.

The Dicker will offer increasingly lucrative incentives for you to make the price a little more reasonable. The longer you stick to the price as marked the more grandiose their offers become.  But don’t fall for it. Stay focused on this one unassailable fact, if they’re this annoying what’s the possibility the twelve friends they’re going to send your way will be any less irritating?

As you can see, customers are best viewed as beings with the simplistic goal of separating you from your sanity. They are crafty and adapt well to any solution you offer. They’re like a four-year-old who continually asks,


As frustrating as that is you can’t let them get to you. And not just because shaking sense into them is against the law. It’s also frowned upon in the employee handbook.

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.


2 responses to “Surviving Customer Service 2

  1. did you ever see mallrats? Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl) starred as a mallrat who was hated by the proprietor of the “fashionable male”, who was played by Ben Affleck. Anyway they get into an argument which ends something like this:

    Lee: “Haven’t you ever heard the phrase the customer is always right?”
    Affleck: “Let me tell you a little secret… THE CUSTOMERS ALWAYS AN ASSHOLE!!”

  2. Truer words have never been spoken.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s