If you care at all about customer service representatives, please read.

It is probably safe to say that there are many articles out there about how to give good customer service, what not to do when it comes to customer service, and how to manage difficult situations while still giving excellent customer service. It is all geared/catered towards the ‘customer is always right’ mentality and while that is not a bad policy to have, it generally doesn’t take into consideration the question “well what if they’re not? what about the representatives that come across really difficult customers who are unaware where the mishap is coming from, no matter how many different ways you try to explain it to them?”

As someone who has been in the field of customer service for quite some time now, I have had some time to think about a list of things folks can do that would be much appreciated by reps in most industries. Always feel free to add more in the comments section.

  1. Refer us by our names when you can. — Most of us have name tags on or we will mention our names to you when we are helping you so when you speak to us you know we’re actual people, not nameless company property.
  2. Express appreciation when you receive any kind of service or assistance. – A simple thank you will suffice and while we don’t necessarily need it to keep providing service, we may deal with mainly frustrated, upset customers so hearing a genuine thank you or expression of gratitude really is refreshing every once and a while.
  3. This doesn’t apply for every customer service related position but if a customer service representative is inviting you to review them and their service online, most often than not it is a way to receive extra income, provided that their company provides that incentive. In one example, a company of mine was offering $10 each recommended review we received and while it doesn’t seem like much, those $10 per review can be a nice addition to what we make. Often times, customer service related jobs is underpaid compared to the amount of work and stress representatives are expected to take on.
  4. Try, and I mean really TRY, not to rage on us. A policy, an expired coupon, a request we cannot overlook or supervise ourselves is beyond our control and while anger is often an effective catalyst to get somewhere when there’s issues, as customer service reps, we are often just pawns for the knights, kings, and queens of the chess board. We are often the first face you see and voice you first hear when you come in, call in to request attendance so we usually take the blow before our higher ups for something outside our control and with little to no warning. Not to say that you shouldn’t vent to us, we understand frustration and would want to know what’s the best way of helping you when you’re distressed, but when folks are yelling, shouting or calling us obscenities and threatening our job status over a policy we have to enforce or over something we do not have power or knowledge to change ourselves… let’s just say that it doesn’t help you, ourselves, and others who are either in the company willing to help or others who are waiting to be attended to.
  5. Please do not panic or get frustrated when we’re asking questions. We are likely asking questions to make sure we fully understand the situation and to make sure we are directing you to the appropriate venue to get where you’re trying to get to. Sometimes the questions can take a while but just like your time is valuable, our time is of the essence since there is many other also waiting to be helped.
  6. Also, try not to panic when you’re placed on hold or are left waiting for long periods. As customer service representatives, we can only do so much at times to expedite your process and sometimes while the appropriate situation or task is still pending, we still have to and are expected to attend to others. This is especially the case in receptionist offices where often times we are expected to help as many guests/customers coming in while being efficient as our position and resources allow us to be. I cannot count how many times folks have yelled over the phone or expressed excessive amounts of angry, hateful comments over being put on hold or made to wait too long when we were short staffed compared to the high number of calls and I had previously mentioned this to them ahead of time. Venting and expressing your dissatisfaction is understandable but yelling is a bit excessive considering how often multiple folks yell at the reps.
  7. Don’t be THAT person. The petty one. — While one rep may not have helped you well enough but the second one did, do not take it out on them by saying comments such as “well you weren’t very helpful” or “see, clearly you don’t know anything.” Anything along those lines would be better said to a supervisor so feel free to voice your concern or negative experience to a supervisor or management so that efforts are made to improve the service. There’s no need to get catty.
  8. DO tell us if we’re misunderstanding you! — Personally, I have no problem when someone tells me I’m not doing something right or understanding their point. Do not call us demeaning names or attack us verbally some way just because we are not understanding your situation right away or having issues communicating. Sometimes with that, we can ask a fellow coworker to come in and try clarifying things as a mediator.

Customers/guests who get rather rowdy should take into consideration how much harm that does for their case than good. It’s okay to be mad; we get the urgency of your situation then and there but when someone is yelling at a person, they should consider how hard it is for the representative to open up their ears to you when you’re yelling, literally and figuratively. I personally disassociate when being yelled at mainly because of an auto-defense mechanism so half of the stuff said, I probably won’t remember you said (it’s something I definitely have to figure out how to stop doing but it’s been that way due to previous traumatic experiences).

These are just some things I can think of that would be much appreciated from customers/guests while their seeking customer service. I saw an article somewhere that had generally the same idea with the title “How to get even better customer service” which made me laugh but generally, it’s sweet to think about. It’s all a cycle and while I like to think I enjoy dealing with challenging customers and that it helps me become a better CS provider, there’s only so much a rep can take before it gets draining and burnout becomes a possibility.

All in all, I wouldn’t leave the field for good just because of a couple bad-tasting experiences.

Stay mindful.