A letter to John Q. Public

Dear John Q. Public,

I can’t help but notice how rude you are to customer service people. I get it. You want what you want and you want it now and that person isn’t giving you what you want, but perhaps I can persuade you to treat others a bit more gently. First of all, you’re not entitled. You have to work for and earn everything you get just like everybody else. I’m sorry your mommy told you that you’re a special little snowflake but really you’re just like every other snowflake and this world is a blizzard. Second, that person on the phone or behind the counter that you’re treating like dirt is a human being, not the embodiment of whatever business or entity you’re currently pissed off with. I would also point out that he/she is not in fact dirt. He/she is a person with a job to do just like you and me.

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Think about how you would feel if someone came to your place of employment or dwelling and treated you that way. Would you like it? Of course not! If you asked that person on the phone or behind the counter, I’m sure he/she would tell you that he/she really doesn’t want to hear your abuse. I know because I’ve been the person both on the phone and behind the counter. Also spoiler alert! I don’t care what the customer service person did or said to you. You are an adult and you are responsible for your own actions. As such you have the capacity to act appropriately regardless of how others may act toward you. I suggest you use it. Screaming, yelling, ranting, raving, or verbally abusing someone is not an appropriate way to act. However don’t do it so you can get on some moral high horse and think you’re better than someone else. Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Otherwise I may tell you where to go and what to do with the moral high horse you rode in on.

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Have you ever heard the saying that you catch more flies with honey than you do with piss? Guess what! It’s true! People respond much better to someone speaking to them in a calm, kind, and rational manner than they do to someone who’s carrying on like a petulant child. If you were nicer to people you’d probably get what you want a lot more often and the people who have to deal with you would have a much better day. See? Everybody wins!

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You may not believe this, but that person on the phone or behind that counter really does want to help you. No, I’m serious he/she really does, but there’s a caveat to this. All companies have rules and guidelines that they’re required to follow for a variety of reasons. Some have to do with corporate policy while others are in place due to State or Federal regulations that must be followed. So that person on the phone or behind the counter really isn’t giving you a hard time just because he/she wants to ruin your day. He/she would love to give you what you want and let you happily go about the rest of your day, but he/she isn’t able to do that because he/she has to follow the rules. Do you see him/her asking you to put your job on the line for him/her? I don’t think so. So why on earth do you think it’s fair for you to expect someone else to do the same for you? Now do you see how ridiculous you sound?

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Oh and please, go ahead and demand to talk to a supervisor. I dare you. I’ve been on the other end of that phone call, too. You’re going to get the same information repeated back to you by someone with a different voice and enough experience to be firm while still putting you at ease and making you understand that we really are trying to help.

Despite what you might think, no customer service job is easy and not only because of asshats like you. They also typically don’t pay well, they’re stressful, the benefits if they even offer them suck, and it sucks to smile while someone gives you a hard time. The job sucks so much that people call out constantly so there’s a pretty good chance that the person you’re mistreating was called in on his/her only day off for the week because one of his/her coworkers didn’t feel like showing up to work. He/she is probably overworked and taken for granted and needs your abuse like he/she needs a hole in his/her head.

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Next time you find yourself losing your cool in a customer service situation, stop and take a deep breath. You’re not a victim. Nobody is out to get you and the sole motivation of the person behind the counter or on the phone is to help you, not to ruin your day. You’re not entitled and poor planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on someone else’s. Think about two golden rules. First, do unto others as you’d have done to you. If you wouldn’t want to be mistreated, don’t mistreat someone else. The second golden rule: don’t be a dick. Giving a customer service person a hard time is a total dick move. It costs you nothing to be a decent person. Try it out! You might like it!

Signed,

Everyone who’s ever worked in customer service

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