Tag Archives: customer service

Surviving Customer Service 9

Well, this is it. Hope you liked it. But, even after my subjecting you to it, if you’d like a copy of your very own, wander on over to my store to get one.

GLOSSARY

2-way, 3-way, 4-way, 6-way – Ways you will get fucked.

80/20 Rule – Amount of work you do versus the amount you get paid.

Activity Based Costing – The harder a Customer Service Representative works (activity) the fewer Customer Service Representatives you need (costing).

Assortment – No matter how large, you’ll never have what people want.

Average Inventory on Hand – 40% less than necessary. Except when it’s a sale item. Then it’s 80% less.

Backorder – When you flip off a customer behind their back after they’ve sent you back to the stock room seven times.

Backstock – Items in stock you don’t want a customer to have. Usually saved for extreme situations, see ‘Backorder’.

Bar Code – Symbol used for identification purposes for which bar you’ll be hitting after shift. The Bar Code is necessary so the Manager can be sent to the wrong bar.

Cannibalization – When there are 2 or more customers fighting over 1 Customer Service Representative.

Category Killer – When an item on sale is worn improperly by a Customer Service Representative. Usually on purpose. Example, male Customer Service Representative wearing stiletto heels and a hockey mask.

Cherry Picker – Consumer who runs from store to store for the best price. The only defense is for both stores to call one another and keep lowering the price until the ‘Cherry Picker’ is in a frenzy but still has to make one last trip to the other store. Once at the other store, the Customer Service Representative will say they cannot match that price. The ‘Cherry Picker’ will go back for the deal only to be told the Customer Service Representative they had a ‘deal’ with is off or the item is no longer in stock.

Commodity – Necessary evil. AKA: Customer Service Representative. Seen as interchangeable and renewable to management.

Consumer – Carrier of all Customer Service Representative’s hatred.

Continuous Replenishment Programs – Practice of partnering up with other Customer Service Representatives to buy rounds at the bar until closing time.

Corporate – Nameless, faceless drones desperate to suck every last ounce of a Customer Service Representatives usefulness. Also responsible for Customer Service Representatives having to clean the never used back stairs for their once a year 3 minute visit.

Customer Loyalty – Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Yeah, right.

Data Mining – Chatting up a customer for dates. Although that seems against all our teachings but sex in the backroom doesn’t count if you don’t call back.

Decision Support – System from that reveals trends and patterns which will have nothing to do with the real world. The decision was made by a chimp and supported by a slug.

Decision Support Software – Computer game Manager is playing in the office.

Demographic – Characteristics of the teeming masses that ruin your day.

Demographic Clusters – When they all come in at once.

Direct Store Delivery – Process where boxes are dropped off and immediately lost.

Efficient – Producing a desired effect with minimum effort, expense, or waste; working well. One of the most virulent of the Urban Myths.

Efficient Consumer Response – Time it takes Customer to complain (average: 8.3 milliseconds) vs. time it takes Customer Service Representative to react (average: 8.3 seconds) vs. time it takes Manager to get involved (8.3 minutes) vs. amount of time it takes Regional Manager to formulate plan of action (8.3 hours) vs. time it takes Corporate to finalize plan to customers satisfaction (still awaiting Oversight Committee’s decision).

Efficient Assortment – Allowing customers to drop items where every they want.

Efficient Replenishment – Placing boxes in the aisle with the manager standing over them screaming for a Customer Service Representative to open it and place items in an eye-pleasing display on the shelf.

Every Day Low Price – Retail strategy that entails lying to customers to avoid having to run specials.

Every Day Value Price – Differs from every day low price by lying to customers about the perceived ‘value’ of their price gouging.

Execution – Fired.

Facings – Number of expressions a Customer Service Representative can make during one insipid conversation with a customer.

First-In-Rotation – Practice of Customer Service Representatives taking customers in turn. Also known as, “I got the last one. This one is yours.”

Frequent Shopper Program – Systematized program designed to torture Customer Service Representatives due to the fact that any customer who gets such a card sent to them by Corporate feels an overwhelming fealty so demands added attention and supplication by all.

Gross Margin – Profit percent of sales which is always less than the projected outcome for that quarter. Even though this happens all the time, Corporate has never reduced one projected outcome.

Gross Profit – Figure calculated by subtracting the cost of an item from its selling price which, if you think about it, if they raised the price of the item the above failure would never occur. But, that’s silly. The reason the projected outcome is never hit is clearly the fault of the Customer Service Representative.

Gross Sales – Total dollar amount which is never enough to please Corporate which is blamed on poor attitude and sales abilities of Customer Service Representatives.

High-Low Pricing – Customer Service Representative is instructed to tell the customer the price they feel is high is actually lower than the Manufacturers Suggest Retail price (AKA lie).

Home Meal Replacement – Food a Customer Service Representative tries to jam down their throat during their 15 minute break that never seems to be a full 15 minutes because of Management’s constant barging in screaming, “Isn’t your break over YET!”

House Label – Poor quality goods that couldn’t be sold with ‘CrapCo’ label sent back to Corporate who then sent it to a sweat shop and had new labels with their name put on it. Marked-up 60-140% from the ‘CrapCo’ label.

Information Management – Keeping all information away from management.

In-Stock – What customers never seem to be able to see although it’s sitting on the shelf three feet from their corpulent face. Wow, I feel better now.

Internet – Where Customer Service Representative places fake (or are they?) pictures of Manager having sex with various farm animals

Intranet – Where Customer Service Representative places fake (or are they?) pictures of General Manager having sex with various farm animals using hacked account of the stores Manager.

Inventory – Shit that attracts the damn customers.

Inventory Turnover – Good shit Customer Service Representatives hide behind the counter so customers can’t get it.

Just-In-Time Purchasing – Approach to inventory management that never works and causes hours of aggravation for Customer Service Representative.

Kiosk – Freestanding display which is often a last resort of employment for Customer Service Representatives.

Layout – Location in store Customer Service Representative’s hide in plain sight.

Letter of Resignation – Pre-written, undated letter carried at all times to be dated and delivered to Manager five minutes before being fired in order to secure two extra weeks pay.

List Price – False high price placed by the manufacturer to make store look good by not gouging that much.

Loss Leader – Shit placed in the open for thieving little bastards to steal.

Low Involvement Merchandise – Dusty shit that sits there forever.

Ma’am – Bitch.

Manufacturer Brand – Same as ‘House Label’ except, because it’s a bigger corporation, the mark-up is 150% across the board.

Margin – Difference between the cost of an item and its obscene mark-up.

Markdown – Reduction of specially marked-up items to a selling price that is still above the usual selling price yet advertised as a sale.

Market Leader – Store with the biggest turnover of Customer Service Representative due to gung-ho nature of Management and draconian Corporate culture.

Market Research – Study that determines needs of consumers that is hung in the break room and laughed at for it’s inaccuracies of current trends and slang.

Markup – Amount is solely dependant on number of sexual harassment suits pending on Corporate.

Mass Marketing – Having the newest Customer Service Representative dress up in a furry costume and greet the masses.

Merchandising – One of the Customer Service Representative’s most important tasks. Making sure the store is clean, the shelves stocked and eye pleasing until the first customer barges through and tosses the place like the DEA at a meth lab.

One-Stop Shopping – Store with everything that is the perfect place for a Customer Service Representative who knows nothing but likes to run around looking busy.

Operating Expenses – Number Customer Service Representative’s never know but are always blamed for it being too high.

Out-of-Stock – Perfect Customer Service Representative response to an overly annoying customer for whatever item they are looking for. It takes an exceptionally talented Customer Service Representative to pull this off when the item is on the shelf, but it has happened.

Overhead – Place they keep the lights, signs, dust and security cameras.

Overstock – Too much is ordered so the Manager makes the Customer Service Representative stuff the shelves so when a customer tries to get an item every item on the shelf falls.

Plan – Formulated Corporate approach that results in much hilarity to Customer Service Representative’s.

Point-of-Sale – Location Customer Service Representative spends the most time due to the safety of the counter between them and the customer.

Process – Arduous task Customer Service Representative’s go through every horrible day of their lives.

Product – Shit sold in the store.

Promotion – Activity Customer Service Representative will never achieve.

Quick Response – Most abused Corporate policy. Corporate sets a time they find acceptable from the moment a customer enters the store and a Customer Service Representative greets them.

Safety Stock – Urban Myth.

Scanner – Instrument waved over product in all locations except the one that will activate the scan process.

Scanning – Longest increment of time Customer Service Representative is allowed to torture customer.

Seasonal Promotion – Holy Grail of Hate on the Customer Service Representative’s calendar.

Shelf Talkers – Out of all customers to avoid, these are among the top. They talk to socks! If a Customer Service Representative is cornered by one call the next of kin.

Shrinkage – When a Customer Service Representative hides from a potentially annoying situation (i.e. a customer with an arm full of goods and a mouthful of questions).

Sir – Asshole.

Space Management – Procedure used to squeeze as many Customer Service Representative’s into a car as possible on the way to after shift drinks.

Special Order – Item petulant customers will spend an hour explaining, in intricate detail, how it must be ordered only to ignore incessant pick-up calls or, if they do show up, will immediately find a flaw and refuse the item which means, because Special Orders cannot be returned, it will sit on the shelf forever (see Low Involvement Merchandise). Don’t believe the jingles, special orders bug the shit out of us.

Stock – Shit on shelves.

Stock Keeping Unit – Security Officer. Can’t be found whenever there is a problem.

Trade Allowances – Swag provided by manufacturers to provoke Manager to put their item in a good location that the Manager hordes and hides in the office doling out only to favorite Customer Service Representative. Always hidden in locked shelves behind Managers desk.

Universal Product Code – Place to wave Scanner over a minimum of 12 times per item. ‘Customer Service Representative Of The Day’ is whomever’s customer gets so mad their face gets redder than the scanner beam.

Warehouse – Location Customer Service Representatives tell customers the item they’ve been waiting for is stuck.

Warehouse Club Store – Where old Customer Service Representative’s go to die.

Xer – Customer Service Representative who used to work at this location but now only comes by to brag about their new job where they don’t have to deal with customers.

Yawn – Activity most often occurring when a customer approaches a Customer Service Representative.

Zero – Amount all this ‘hands on’ experience will mean on your resume.

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Surviving Customer Service 8

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.

TALES FROM THE TRENCHES

Although I have enough personal stories from the customer service trenches to fill a book (two actually. They go by the names, If Life’s An Experiment, I’m A Lab Rat and Catless Tails) I figured, by now, you’re tired of listening to me.

So here are true stories from the aisles and stockrooms of the world.

I’m in the store with the manager and a woman with a carriage was banging on the glass. She’s screaming that she left her baby in the store. He opens the door and the three of us run around the building looking for the baby.
About five minutes into it we haven’t found her so the manager is about to call the police when a guy starts banging on the door. It’s her husband with the baby.

We’re all relieved, of course, but as the manager was unlocking the door to let her out he noticed something in the carriage.

She’d put on this elaborate scene to steal a boom box.
J.S.

A customer’s pants fell down in front of me. He let them linger while asking,

“See anything you like?
L.L.

A husband and wife come into the restaurant and, eight seconds into their stay, she huffily exclaims,

“So, am I just supposed to seat myself?”

I inhale a deep, calming breath, put on my best smile and say,

“Oh I’d be happy to seat you, do you prefer a booth or a table? We have a wait on booths right now but I can seat you at a table immediately.”

The husband dryly responds,

“Booth. Now.”

“I’ll see if anything’s opened up.”

I go to my manager and talk over the situation. The only booth available is one that seats ten in the closed dining room. I go back and explain there may be a slight wait for a more desirable table and she goes directly into grumpy (I’m guessing Hypoglycemic much?),

“I don’t see why on earth I can’t have the large table, regardless of the room being closed.”

I put on my Adult Britches™, take off my sarcastic ‘tude and reply,

“Absolutely, ma’am, please, follow me.”

I settle them into the table and laugh out loud because, the truth is, the room is closed because there are eight children under the age of six in there running around screaming.

But hey, the customer is always right.
Aimee Dragonfly

I was stocking a shelf and turned to see a guy waving his arms like he was juggling. I didn’t think much of it until he hit the ground and started crawling.

I look and see what he’s chasing and think,

‘Is that a glass eye?’

The guy catches up to it and it was.
F.H.

I was working as a credit counselor and a soldier who’d been in Afghanistan and was getting deployed to Iraq called. He said he’d been dropped by a creditor without reason. His debt was now $3000 higher than before he’d joined our program. I called the company and was told his payments had been late. I agreed and told her it was because the Army was late sending his checks to his wife.

“Were you aware he was in Afghanistan?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “But I thought he was on vacation.”

“Yes, people are dying to go there for the mountains and terrorist sightings.” She said,

“Well, you never know.”
M.J.

A kid was rolling around on the floor bitching that he had to go to the bathroom. His mother ignored him even after he pissed on the floor. He was sitting in it splashing while he mother kept on shopping.
E.C.

I was stocking shelves at a grocery store when a woman rushed up and told me she’d never buy our brand because our company tested products on animals. I told the woman that we were part of a large corporation and, although that may be true somewhere in the company, our tiny little division didn’t.

I gave her an 800 number to corporate so she could voice her displeasure to the proper people when she started screaming that I was a bunny killer. I’m watching this woman go nuts and I couldn’t help but to start laughing.

“Ma’am,” I said. “I’ve never so much as placed a cup of coffee near an animal and, personally, I think you should back off on your java intake.”

She was so upset she took the corporate number from me and called them. To complain about me!
T.B.

While moving out a divorcing couple they got into an argument about a TV so the husband took it to the porch and threw it off. It hit her car right on the hood.
She seemed to take it well as she walked into the house, found some big metal thing and threw it on his car.
J.V.

I drive a bus and a woman slapped me across the face while I was driving because she said she knew I was thinking racist thoughts.
C.D.

My father was a ticket agent at a train station for 21 years and he told the story of the time a blustery fellow dashed up to the window, furiously waving the ticket he had grasped in his hand.

“What’s the platform for Chicago? I’ve gotta catch that train NOW!” He yelled.

That information would have been on the ticket, but the ticket was in constant motion, and my father knew the answer anyway.

“Chicago? Platform 6,” he said

The loud, blustery fellow dashed off. Ten minutes later he was back, demanding to speak to my father’s supervisor. My father had misinformed him and caused him to miss his train, he loudly declared. The platform for Des Moines was NOT platform 6.

“But,” my father said, “You didn’t ask for the platform for Des Moines! You asked for the platform for Chicago!”

“I SHOWED YOU MY TICKET!” The increasingly irate fellow bellowed.

“You WAVED it at me! How did you expect me to read it, with you waving it around like that?!” my father replied.

Naturally, his supervisor reprimand him severely, for the customer’s benefit. He should have read the ticket!
J.H.

I was picking up a college roommate from the Outer Banks, North Carolina, where she was staying. It was a very pleasant trip until we stopped in a diner in the DC area on the way home for lunch.

There was an elderly couple in a booth near us. The woman was very quiet but her husband was amazingly demanding. Hotter coffee. More butter. Rounder pancakes. The jelly is the wrong color.

The diner was very busy and the waitress for our section, a very young, courteous girl, was bustling as fast as she could, but this man wanted his own private service.

Finally, he asked for the check. As two young working girls ourselves, we’d been taking this in and were both glad he’d be gone, as I’m sure the waitress would be. But she’d made a mistake tallying up his check — she’d overcharged him ten cents. ONE DIME. He demanded to see the manager at once. That manager publicly upbraided her for her colossal mistake and implicit rudeness.

Before we left, we stopped in the ladies room. That poor girl was in there, sobbing like you wouldn’t believe. My roommate gave the girl a big hug and told her it was clear from the get-go that the old buzzard was going to use any excuse to get out of tipping her, despite keeping her running for 45 minutes; she’d seen that type before.
J.H.

Although I have many stories they all end pretty much the same: my losing my shit in the stockroom. So instead I’d like to give a warning.

No matter what career you choose, do no sell shoes. You will become nothing more than a bitter, angry, woman-hating asshole.

If you’re wondering why I’ve been doing it for twenty-five years and haven’t left, it’s too late. I own the company.
M.F.

No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t make this lady happy. I must have showed her every dress in the place and she kept complaining.

I’m standing there with an arm full of dresses when she says,

“I’d like to talk to your manager. You’ve made this experience wholly unsatisfying.”

I lost it. I threw the dresses at her and said,

“And you’ve been a holy fucking bitch. I’ll send the manager over so he can see why I deserve a raise.”
J.E.

A guy came in to the restaurant a bloody mess. I asked him if he wanted me to call an ambulance. He didn’t answer for a minute. He just kept looking around. I asked again, he didn’t answer. Finally, he looked at me and said,

“Can I have a job application?”
K.G.

A guy came in three days in a row right after opening wanting to buy a newspaper with a hundred dollar bill. There was no way I could break that so I ended up giving him the paper.

On the fourth day I was ready for him. I’d gone to the bank and got one hundred dollar bills using my own money. I hand him ninety-nine ones and two quarters and he flips out.

He tells me he doesn’t have to take the ones. I explain it is legal tender in the correct amount of his change so, in fact, he did have to accept the change.

He left in a huff and I never saw him again.
G.C.

I worked for a major league sports team and had to deliver papers to a future hall of famer. I ring the bell, he opens the door, grabs the papers, takes a step back and tells me to come in and stand there.

I’m standing there for ten minutes, afraid to move an inch. I’m looking around expecting some opulence. This guy was worth millions, this was a multi-million dollar condo but his furniture was shittier than mine. There were beer cans all over the place. It looked like a frat house.

He calls from his office and I stand in the doorway for another couple of minutes looking around at this mess. In the corner on the floor was an MVP trophy. There are boxes of balls, jersey’s, and pictures he’s signing for big bucks for a dealer. It was amazing. Finally he says,

“Grab some trash bags from the kitchen, pick up the cans and bring them to the liquor store.”

Although that was way out of my job description I knew better than to refuse. So I started cleaning up. I must have filled ten trash bags, at least. Then I hauled them down the stairs, five floors, because I couldn’t use the regular elevator and the service elevator was doing a move.

I get all the bags in my car and bring them to the liquor store. By now I’m sweating like a bastard but I’m done. I get back to the condo thinking that, like the other players when you do a personal service, he’ll be giving me a tip for being his cleaning lady.

He meets me at the door, hands me the papers and says,

“Where’s my money?”

I’m dumbfounded as he says,

“You better not short me. I know exactly how much is there.”

And not for a minute did I doubt him.
E.P.

I was working backstage security when this guy without a pass tried to get into the room. So I stopped him and he went nuts.

Turns out he was the main act. I didn’t know him from anyone else. He was before my time so I don’t think I even knew any of his songs. But there he was, pulling a nutty right there in front of me.

In the middle of the exchange he says,

“I’ll have your fucking job.”

I was so sick of putting up with this has been. I’m working some stupid job at my college and I’m getting shit on by a guy who hasn’t had a hit in my lifetime? Please!

“I saw the crowd tonight,” I said. “And taking my job would be a good move. I’m sure I’m getting paid more than you tonight.”
J.L.R.

I worked in gift shop and this woman wanted to return a set of wine glasses. She said she got the wrong type and had never used them.

I open the box to make sure everything was okay. They were in good shape but I took one out and held it up to her.

“Next time at least clean the lipstick off the rims.”
S.S.

I arrived at work and there were a few people waiting for us to open. I walk past a few people who may have seen me wearing my vest up to the guy in front.

“Excuse me.”

“You’re not cutting in front of me.”

“But sir, I. . .”

“. . .fuck off.”

I turn to the other people and they’re laughing. So I shrug my shoulders and wait. The guy is looking at his watch every ten seconds. He looks around the parking lot, down the walkway, and the more he looks around the angrier he gets. He turns to the rest of us waiting and says,

“It’s past ten o’clock! Where the fuck is the guy?”

I jingle my keys in his face.
F.L.

I work in for a truck rental place and sometimes we find people sleeping in the back. One day I’m taking a customer out to show them the truck, I open the back and a guy is standing there jerking off.

A customer called to tell me there was some dog shit was in the back. I didn’t want to tell her dogs would find it impossible to open the back and that it had to be human feces. Instead I said I could send someone out to clean it or she could and I’d reduce the rental. I declined her offer to bring the shit when she dropped off the truck as proof.
P.M.

I worked in a photo developing store and a woman came in irate because she said her pictures looked like hell. I ask if I could see them so she starts waving them in my face telling me I couldn’t touch them. I ask her to put them on the counter so I can at least see them. And she’s right, the pictures looked like hell. But it wasn’t the fault of developing. They were all out of focus.
B.V.

I was making an appointment to service someone’s furnace and asked them their address.

“Why do you need that?”

“We need to tell the repairman where to go.”

“I don’t like that. I don’t let strangers in my house.”

“Then how are we going to repair your furnace?”

“Can you do it over the phone?”
G.H.

I couldn’t make this customer understand that the item they wanted would not do what they wanted it to do. We go back and forth for awhile until he says,

“What would you think if I told you I was never going to step foot in this store again?”

“I was being blessed by God.”
F.P.

I caught a shoplifter and she started screaming that she brought it from home.

“You carried a twenty pound turkey from your home in  your pants?”
W.S.

I worked at a breakfast place and we had this customer who was a jerk. Nothing was ever right even though he got the same thing every day. Armed with this information every morning we’d take turns kicking his bagel around the stockroom floor.
G.I.

This crazy guy used to come in to get a coffee every day. He’d sit there until the moment we all dreaded: all of the other customers would leave. He was harmless but it was annoying to have him go on and on with his conspiracy theories while we were cleaning up and restocking for the next rush.

Then, one day, he was gone.

About six months after that a delivery guy delivered about a dozen good-sized boxes filled with his conspiracy theory papers. And an envelope for each of us with ten dollars.

We would read them during breaks and have contests to see who could make sense of them. There was some far out shit in there.
M.J.

It was a restaurants grand opening with signs stating that everywhere. A woman was screaming that this was the worst service she’d had in all the years she’d been coming there.
D.H.

Someone called for directions. I asked where they were coming from and they said,

“My house.”
A.C.

A customer brought two items over to me. One was a high-end personal stereo system and the other was on the low-end. At first he’s asking me the differences and general questions. He seems to be paying attention but I could tell he had something else in mind.

He asked me if I’d ring up the low-end model and let him take the high-end. I told him as tempting as that sounded, it was impossible. He starts trying to convince me and it was just getting old. I told him that I’d get my manager if he wanted to discuss this any further. He tells me I don’t have to be such a jerk and he was joking.

Twenty minutes later he comes back with the low-end box. But the box was beat to shit. The top was bowed, the sides were bulging, there were rips in the cardboard. I look at the guy and he’s telling me to ring it up.

I tell him that it’s against company policy to sell items in distressed boxes and that I’d have to get him another one. I begin to put the box behind the counter when he grabs it. We both have our hands on it over the counter. He tells me if it’s distressed I should just give him a discount, ring him up and let him leave.

I tell him I could do that but I’d have to call the manager for authorization. He pulls the box out of my hand and runs toward the exit. Where he was clotheslined by a security guard who’d seem him switch items on the security monitors.
J.E.

You’d think working in a greeting card store would be very laid back. But after hordes of women come in during their lunch break the place looks like a cyclone hit it.

But it’s the people who get pissy because you don’t have a card that expresses their exact emotion that can ruin your day. I had one woman rip me a new asshole because she couldn’t find anything suitable. I’m trying to help but that was only making things worse. It got to the point where she started to blame me for the sentiments.

“Lady, I just ring them up, I don’t write them.”

That pissed her off and she started ripping cards in front of me. The owner comes running from the back and it was a bid deal. She refused to pay for the cards she destroyed until mall security was called.

The next week I saw her in the store again. This time I guess our cards got better because she picked up a few and left without a word.
P.M.

I did dog walking and one of the humans demanded I bring her dogs poop back after the walk. She said she’d know if I switched it with another dogs so don’t even try it. I never asked her why she wanted it.
L.B.

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.

Surviving Customer Service 7

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.

THE INTERVIEW
Interviews in the customer service world are unlike anything in the business world. In the business world you’ll sit at a desk. The interviewer will have papers strewn across the desk. You’ll have good posture, be wearing a suit and, possibly, have an air of confidence.

That’s not quite how it goes in customer service. Usually the manager will be leading you around tossing questions, of which your response will only be half heard, over their shoulder.

Although you may think that’s a very distracting way to interview, it works to your advantage. Ignore the useless babble about how it’s a family. How much they watch out for their own. How fulfilled you’ll be.

Be honest, you hate your family, corporations only care about you if you were your height in hundred dollar bills, and, as far as being fulfilled, that’s sort of true. They’ll do their best to fill up all your time.

What you need to pay attention to are the non-verbal cues you’ll see throughout the store. To catch the non-verbal cues you’ll have to pay attention to the employees busily pretending to work as you pass.

If they refuse to make eye contact and seem as if they’re not breathing run out of the building as quickly as you can. The manager is an ogre and possibly a card carrying member of BEKK (Baby Eating Kitty Killers) who, once corporate gets enough evidence, will gets fired for fondling mannequins in the lingerie department then placed on the fast track to 4AM infomercial hucksterism followed by a stretch in the big house.

If they smile and nod in unison you’ll want to make a more subtle escape. They’re all jockeying for the soon to be available managers position and will eat your liver over a pallet of cream corn to accomplish it.
If they’re friendly with the manager you might hang around until the end of the interview but, the moment you get home, change your phone number.

This group is well versed in the art of shorting the till, stealing stock before it hits the loading dock, and credit card fraud. Corporate is aware of their extra curricular actives and is just wanting for the subpoenas to come in before swooping down and cleaning house.

If they’re polite to the managers face but roll their eyes or make even more menacing gestures out of sight you may want to wander off slowly into another department.

This manager is ineffectual and is afraid to cross the employees because their (fake) friendship means more than doing the work. During your first shift every job that’s been piling up for months will be heaped upon you and you won’t see the light of day for half a year.

As you can see, watching for the subtle clues of the crew can pay dividends during your job search.

The interview itself is nothing more than an opportunity to probe you. The moment you showed up, proved you were alive, the job was yours. But they have to go through the talking part. They do it to put on an air of professionalism. When you think about it, most of the questions they’re asking are answered in the application. The other questions are a series of well-honed questions to test your psychological mettle.

This is the time they’ll give you things like the corporate mission statement. Don’t bother reading it because, no matter what inspirational sentiment they’ve heavily paid a writer (such as myself) all it truly means is,

“Profits! All we care about it the bottom line and one way we’ve found to accomplish it is to buy cheap shit, sell it for much more than it’s worth while paying our low-level employees (that’d be you) just enough to sustain them so they have the strength to come to work every day.”

They’ll also give you the blessed Employee Handbook. We’re going to cover that in the next chapter but you should know it’s filled with nothing more than corporate speak designed to cover their asses while making it virtually impossible to sue when they fire your ass.

The most important item you’ll be given is a name tag. I’m not saying it’ll have your name on it but, and trust me here, don’t lose it. To the company that tag is more important than you. This will be your first of many brandings by the company.

Just like a cow, you are now chattel. You will be prodded and poked; penned for hours with only the florescent light to keep you warm; their corporate-speak will be seared into your head until, years after you have escaped their clutches, you’ll be able to recite their approved sales pitch; and, even more despicable, you’ll be able to rattle off SKU numbers of products long removed from the shelves.

Once the interview really gets rolling you’ll have to recite a series of appropriate and hackneyed phrases to show your desire to work for this corporation. Don’t worry that they sound trite, that’ll help the interviewer see that you’re already, at least partially, indoctrinated.

Also, don’t give a second thought that the interviewer will think the lines bullshit. They know they are. So, to try and put you on an even level at the interview, here’s a list of phrase you will recite and what the interviewer actually hears.

“I feel I’d be an asset to the team.”
“I’ll show up when I’m supposed to.”

“I’m a hard worker.”
“Right now.”

“I’m a people person.”
“Customers, on the other hand, suck.”

“I believe in giving an honest days work.”
“I’ll only steal when no one’s around.”

“Being on a successful team is important to me.”
“I need a job. Why else would I be here?”

“I was a valued member of the team at my last job.”
“The day I left.”

“I find pleasure in work.”
“Because I know I’m getting paid.”

One you and the interviewer get a rhythm that’s when the interview will really take off. They’ve heard you go on about how you are an honest, hardworking, law-abiding member of society and not once did they spit up their latte.

So now it’s your turn.

You will be offered a list of questions that have few, if any, right answers. These questions have been honed to a razors edge so that any psychological anomaly that resides in your subconscious mind will be deftly revealed.

Okay, I’m just trying to scare you here. They’re actually there to give the interviewer something to do while thinking about what to drink after work.

As mentioned, there are no ‘right’ answers to these questions so answer as blandly as possible. And by ‘blandly’ I mean lie. Go ahead! Toot your own horn! Tell them you’re the last triple crown winner in major league baseball! Tell them you invented a cure for dog drool! Lie as big as you’ve always wanted to because they’re not listening anyway!

Have you learned nothing so far? You’re sitting there, right? You haven’t pissed yourself or stolen anything off the desk, right? Then you’ve got the job.

Unless. . .

As with any situation in life, you can make a mistake. So what we’re going to do is go over a potential list of interview questions. We’ll point out some of the pitfalls you’ll encounter and some answers you should not give if you want to exit the building under your own power.

Tell me about yourself.

Whatever you do here, DO NOT be honest. Tell them about your idealized self, the self you would have been if you hadn’t spent your formative years playing beer pong and playing video games.

In other words, use the talents you’ve honed over the years when you’ve got caught doing something and you needed to extricate yourself from that situation.

That’s right, lie. Often and big.

What do you find most attractive about this position?
The cashier. Although true, this is an example of why you shouldn’t go with the first thing that comes to your mind. Take a moment, seem as if you’re giving this some serious thought, and pretend you’re vying for the Miss America crown.

What do you know about our organization?
If you’ve heard anything bad, like they’ve dumped toxic baby dolls in a school yard or have the women who stitch their designer t-shirts give birth right on the line to increase the number of their employees.

Turn it around. They’re charity in the community knows no bounds and they show compassion to working mothers by having on-site child care.

What have you learned from participation in extracurricular activities?
Herpes itches. Although you may know that as fact, again, it is not an appropriate answer if you’re trying to actually get the job. If you’re not then go for it!

Why do you want to work for us?
Do not say it’s a requirement of your parole. Remember, you’re in a situation where lying is a prized commodity. If you’re not a adept liar what better time to practice? You’re inquiring about employment for a job that will force you to lie to a good eighty to ninety percent of the people you come in contact with. So make it a whopper,
“Because the camaraderie I felt meeting the other team members and the way you’re making me feel as we speak made me feel as if my life’s choices have finally placed me in the family I should have been born to.”

Why should we hire you?
It won’t hurt here if you’re actually a little humble. Tell them although your past experience proves you’d be an asset to any company with the foresight to hire you, the real reason is you saw how understaffed the floor was so, if you don’t get out there tout de suite homicide detectives will be cordoning off the area within the hour.

Who or what has had the greatest influence on your life?
Don’t go for the easy answer such as, Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, or Bernarr MacFadden (inventor of the penis pump). It’s best to go with someone obscure who the interviewer most likely won’t know but had major impact on the customer service industry. I’d suggest that rat bastard, Harry Gordon Selfridge.

What can you do for us that someone else can’t?
Let’s be honest, the answer, unless you can make customers shit diamonds on the way out the door, there’s nothing special about you. If there were you’d be curing something or inventing a booze undetectable by breathalyzer.

So reach into the big ol’ bag ‘o sports cliches and spew a few.

“I hit the ground running.”

“I give one hundred and ten, no, one hundred and eleven percent.”

“I think I tore my groin on that turnaround.”

How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our team?
Hahahahahahaha! Oh, no, that’s not right, don’t do that. See? Even I, someone with hundreds of interviews under my belt, can get caught up with the moment and react like a rational person. You must, at all costs, resist the urge to act rational. It will be your downfall and prove that your brain has waves which means you are a thinker which stands to reason you’ll last two maybe three days on the job. Then what’ll happen? That’s right! The interviewer will have to do more interviews which will severely cut into their internet poker playing.

How would you describe the ideal job?
Although various and, let’s be honest, unattainable positions are racing through your head resist the urge to mention them. The interviewer knows this can’t be your ideal job so they actually ask this question to get ideas for their career change.

How long would you stay with us?
This is tricky because if you say ‘The rest of my life!’ they’ll know you’re lying and, although everything out of your mouth is a lie, you shouldn’t be too flagrant about it. So give a non-answer such as,

“As long as the work is rewarding.”

“As long as I feel I am an asset to the team and an employee you can count on.”

“Until you find out I lied on my application and the phone numbers I used are for sex lines.”

What do you look for in a job?
If long hours, short pay, and mind-numbing banality is your answer you’ve come to the right place!

How would you describe yourself?
Do not describe yourself as you do in your internet profiles. The main pitfall of using that well thought out description is they can see you.

If you had difficulty with a supervisor? How did you resolve the conflict?
Don’t mention the time to gave your manager a swirly. As your manager, they’re looking out for their own safety. Tell them you scheduled a meeting off work hours where the two of you sat down and discussed a variety of solutions that could be realistically implemented and agreed upon. Remember to leave out the swirly and your parting remarks,

“I hope your toupee gets sucked into the toilet, you fat bastard!”

Why did you decide to seek a job with us?
Isn’t this the perfect corporate question? Okay, sure, you were looking for a job but, let’s be honest, until you walked by the place and spotted the ‘help wanted’ sign you probably didn’t even know they existed.

But, oh, big corporate master needs you to stroke it’s massive ego by making you answer a question that eliminates any possibility that you’ve already interviewed at eighty-seven places and this was your last option before your roommates through you out of the house.

Because of that, you should answer thusly,

“Your corporate identity is held in such high esteem how could I not want to work here?”

I know, I know, if I sucked any harder the back of my head would implode but, as I’ve said before, lie and lie big!

What are your long-range career objectives?
This is another attempt by the interviewer to get new job ideas. Don’t fall for it. Tell them insurance fraud.

How well do you work with people?
Unacceptable response: “How dumb are the people?”

What’s more important, the work or the pay?
No seriously, stop laughing this question has actually been asked. It’s a test to see just how pliable you are.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
They want you to say, “In a high level management position just like yours.” Because they like to feel they’re not alone in their misery.

But they know if you answer, ‘Working here!’ you are either lying (remember, don’t be too obvious), after their job, or such a moron they’d spend most of their time cleaning up after your debacles.

This is a perfect opportunity to toot your own horn (yes, I mean lie) and tell them of all the humanitarian endeavors I just told you you’re interested in.

Saving the rain forest, saving the whales, opening a bar called Club Baby Seals. It doesn’t matter what you say as long as you’re not seen as a threat to their power.

How would a good friend describe you?
Do NOT say drunk, cellmate, or lucky to be alive.

What are your expectations regarding promotions and salary increases?
I’m joking! They’ll never ask that.

What’s the most recent book you’ve read?
This one has a title that sounds vaguely helpful. That should be enough to fool them.

What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why?
DO NOT use anything that connects in any way, shape, or form to any bodily function or excretion.

What do you do in your spare time?
This is the part of the interview when they get to know the real you. See your dreams, ambitions, and loves outside the confines of the work-a-day world.

So, for gawd sake, don’t tell them the truth! Tell them you help the homeless get their start (you’re an arsonist). Tell them you help single mothers get their start. Anything other than that you’re a spliff smoking, couch napping slug. Because if they find that out, they may want to hang.

What interests you about our products?
Answering ‘easy to steal’ is considered bad form.

How do you work under pressure?
Handfuls of pills and a six-pack.

What things are most important to you in your job?
A sense of team, servicing customers, and the pride you feel at the end of a tough, long, stressful day are all acceptable responses.

And probably the biggest lines of bullshit in this entire Lie-apalooza. There can’t be a human left on the planet who wakes up with a smile on their face, bounce in their step, and song in their heart on a day when they have to go to work. But, if there is, that’s a person I have to meet.

To kill before they procreate.

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.

Surviving Customer Service 6

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.

DECIPHERING THE EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK
Many people have said I’ve written this book backwards. Giving you information on the employee handbook and filling out the application at the end. To those people I say, “Shut up.”

If I’ve done my job no one has read this far. They’re too busy running to the nearest deep-sea oil-rig employment center. So, taking my own earlier advice, I should dump in some dirty limericks because I’m writing at no one.

There was a man called Dave
Who kept a dead whore in a cave
He said “I admit
I’m a bit of a shit
But think of the money I save.”

But, just in case I haven’t scared everyone freighter bound, there are some nefarious bits on employee handbooks that should be covered with the nit-pickers fine tooth comb I own.

After you get the job you’ll be given a forest load of paperwork. The most important waste of tree (to them. You won’t care a bit about this. The only piece of paper you should care about is your check) is the Employee Handbook.

The employee handbook is a little piece of legerdemain that is poured over by management, lawyers, the board of directors, and a mailroom clerk or two until it is a document so devoid of information it is declared ready for your grubby little paws.

The main reason an employee handbook exists is to baffle you with sentences that may have, at one time in it’s inception, made sense. It’s a good thing for the corporate mindset, eh? Wouldn’t want you to understand anything, would we?

For your benefit and at perilous danger to my own personal well-being, I’ve spent countless hours pouring over a myriad of employee handbooks so that you can read a sentence such as this,

“The actual policies adopted will vary from company to company and will depend to a large extent on size, number of employees, benefits offered, and other factors.”

And not feel your brain slide down your spine.

What the sentence, which was sentence one in an actual employee handbook, says is,

“Nothing you read from this sentence forward will mean anything because it may or may not pertain to you or to anyone you may see in the vicinity of your current or any future location you may or may not mobilize to.”

So why, you may ask, do companies make such a big deal about their employee handbook?

Because management loves to make work.

If management had actual tasks, such as stocking shelves, dealing with irate customers, processing insurance claims before you bleed to death, they’d actually be accountable. You can get in trouble for not dealing with a customers complaint in a timely or satisfactory fashion but who’d ever get in trouble for spending eighty-seven hours in meetings debating the merit of a colon or semi-colon?

No one! That’s the beauty of such corporate pork as the employee handbook! They can, with a straight face (which, to this day, still amazes me) go on and on about how much due diligence went in to the creation of what they deem to be a perfect employee handbook.

That is until a secretary with an English degree and plenty of time on their hands takes a gander at it and clicks off seventy-three grammatical errors in the first chapter.

Oh my! The horror! How, after all our hard work and billable hours, did those never attributed to anyone specifically (no accountability) errors get in there?

No need to live in the past! They must reconvene to create an even greater document in six to eight-seven thousand work hours.

Why do they do it? Because, damnit, our employees deserve it! And a manager is in the market for a new boat.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little hard on what the employee handbook actually stands for. After all, this chapter is called ‘Deciphering The Employee Handbook’ not ‘Holding The Employee Handbook Out For Ridicule’. You’ll have plenty of time for that once you get your own.

The employee handbooks basic function is to dangle corporate benefits in front of you while scaring you senseless so you don’t want to hang around long enough to qualify for a single one of those benefits.

They’ll scare you, right off the bat, by making you sign a form that states you something to the effect that you, ‘acknowledge, understand, accept and agree to comply with the information contained in the employee handbook.’

Yikes! Even the part about indentured servitude for the first born?

In reality, all they’re saying is,

‘See this stuff? We can fire you for anything at anytime.’

Maybe you’d see that as a good thing.

“At least I have a list of things that could get me fired,” you may be thinking.

To that I would say, go out and buy another copy of this book. This copy didn’t work for you.

To hedge their bet they’ll add something to the effect of, ‘I understand this handbook is not intended to cover every situation which may arise during my employment. . .’

What they’re really saying is, ‘We did our best to make firing you as easy and litigation free as possible but, just in case, we’re keeping a few things under wraps.’

After that they’ll cop a laid back attitude, give you a heaping, ‘Hey, how ya doin’?’ Make you feel this is the place for you. You know, the cupcakes and coffee segment of the ‘Satanists For Jesus’ orientation.

It’s here you’ll run into many words like, success, goal-oriented, vision, progressive, excellence, and rewarding. It’s also in this area you’ll be told how, out of the billions of people in the world, they chose YOU!

The fact you were walking by on the way to pick up a slush, realized you didn’t have any money, and saw the ‘help wanted’ sign never seems to come up, does it?

You haven’t even punched in yet and they’re already giving you a line of corporate double talk. Does bode well for once they start paying you, does it?

The meat of the handbook is when they mention policies. Trust me when I say they can go on. They’ll mention things like theft or inappropriate removal or possession of property; falsification of timekeeping records; working under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs; fighting or threatening violence in the workplace; negligence or improper conduct leading to damage of employer-owned or customer-owned property; insubordination or other disrespectful conduct; violation of safety or health rules; smoking in prohibited areas; sexual or other unlawful harassment; possession of dangerous or unauthorized materials in the workplace; excessive absenteeism or any absence without notice; unauthorized use of equipment; unauthorized disclosure of confidential information; violation of personnel policies; unsatisfactory performance or conduct; failure to work assigned overtime; abuse of the travel expenses policy.

Sure makes the place seem less fun to work at, doesn’t it?

As you can see you can get fired pretty easily. Don’t let it bother you. I’ve seen everything on that list, and many things not, broken. Often by the same person. Okay, often by me. Hey! I’m not here as a role model.
The reason for this chapter is to give you a little heads up on what you’re up against because I know damn well you’re never going to read the employees handbook. The first one I read was as research for this book (yes, research went into this. Not much but I’m not much of a reader).

The things is, management knows you won’t read it. Even if they sit there while you flip through the pages they know there’s no way you can read thirty odd pages in the seven seconds it took you to flip through.

That fact (98.6% of all employees never read the employees manual according to SoMUS – Society of Made-Up Statistics) allows management unfettered power to fire and harass at will. Because, when you try to fight back with information gleamed from the employee handbook, you won’t be able to find it because you threw it in the nearest trash receptacle when you left.

The best you have is this book. And that, my friend, is a sad, sad fact.

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.

Surviving Customer Service 5

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.

YEA TEAM!
There is no “I” in team! Yes, that turns out to be very true. But there’s also no “U” so that means you matter less to your bosses, from the bottom to the top, than a register key and more easily eradicated than a spill in aisle five.
The ‘Team Concept’ of management is the updated version of the company town where the people you worked owned your home and every store in the area which replaced the indenture servant mode of management.

The only differences between the ‘Team Concept’ and indenture servitude are:

1) better public relations

2) fewer public whippings

At least when living in a company town when you passed out in the middle of the street you’d be less likely to get run over and killed. It’s not that the people were any kinder, it’s just that they didn’t want to do their job and yours.
The creation of the ‘Team Concept’ of management began when corporations realized its employees believed the bullshit they were spewing about free thought. Trust me, when your company tells you they like their employees to ‘think out of the box,’ what they really mean is,

‘Boy, you’re sure making it easy for us to keep an eye on you!’

It also gave them an idea. A simple idea that’s been utilized for centuries to control and manipulate: Cults.
If a corporation can mold you into drinking deeply from the cup of commerce then it’s only a short time until you’ll believe working fifty-five hours a week is not only the norm but, because you’re on salary, your duty.

The problem was the word cult has such a bad connotation they had to come up with something that would not only achieve the same effect (unquestioning loyalty) but do so in clean, wholesome manner.

Then it dawned on them. They fill their corporate speak with sports metaphors anyway so why not attach the same passion people have for their sports teams and modify that for their nefarious desires.

So, in a secret lair deep behind a shelf of out-of-date whoopie pies, the heads of the top eighty seven corporations world wide met to hash out what this new mind-control experiment would be called.

Don’t think these people take meetings like this lightly. They knew the decisions made in this room would resonate through generations of customer service representatives until, through evolution, they will once again avoid public relations and get back to the public whippings their fore-managers so enjoyed.

After hours of subsisting on the aforementioned whoopie pies, one enlightened (and legend has it, light-headed) middle manager jumped from the seat with such a stirring delivery in defense of the ‘Team Concept’ that the assembled had no alternative but to fully embrace the ‘Team Concept’ of employee manipulation.

I know what you’re thinking, ‘The ‘Team Concept’ adds fun, excitement and a sense of community into our work-a-day lives.’

Do you know what I’m thinking? No? I’m thinking, ‘I hope I get to you before it’s too late!’

Give me a minute and you’ll see just so eerily similar the connection between cult and ‘Team Concept’ is.

Team Concept: Single-minded attempts to achieve a common and unattainable goal (e.g. a 10% sales growth per hour while reducing staff hours 30%).
Cult: Single-minded attempts to achieve a common and unattainable goal (e.g. gain infinite wisdom and inner peace prior to meeting the common deity).

Team Concept: Build camaraderie through use of oft-repeated phrases, draconian rules, and petty trinkets.
Cult: Build camaraderie through use of group mentality, unwavering loyalty, and totems of power.

Team Concept: If believed you’ll be publicly praised by upper management and rewarded with promotions.
Cult: If believed your kids will beatified through sex with the leader and you’ll get the magical kool-aid recipe.

As you can see, the major differences between the ‘Team Concept’ and signing up for your nearest cult (check the phonebook under ‘whacko’) is how quickly you become morally and emotionally bankrupt and the speed in which you’ll experience death.

But, no matter how good a zombie like demeanor and sudden death sounds, trust me, cults have their down sides too.

So, when a manager calls you a valued member of the team in the middle of a droning incantation, stay strong, fight the power of their shiny words and glittering trinkets. Shake their hands, if you must, look deeply into their eyes unwaveringly and utter the phrase that will allow you unfettered access into a world filled with fewer lies and more with distance between you and this cult like tremor,

“It’s time for my break.”

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.

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.

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.