When customer service becomes too much

I have never worked in customer service so I am handing this post to OverQuill who is back with his second guest post. You can find him on Twitter as OverQuill. I don't know if he has worked in retail before but I can only assume by the tone of this post that he has.

There’s a threshold that exists. It is a wondrous, magical line that instantly transmogrifies any old commoner into a being akin to royalty. The threshold about which I write is not some odd portal that whisks people away and allows them to possess some distant monarch, like a royal version of “Being John Malkovich”, but rather, its the threshold at the front of a store.

Stepping into a shop has the power to transform regular common folk into full fledged blue-bloods, affording them the ability to make excessive demands as they gleefully watch shop attendants bend over backwards to satisfy their drunken appetite for control and 30 seconds of power over somebody else.

“Customer is King” goes the mantra, and it’s a mantra I want to die a quick, yet painful death.

Oh, don’t misunderstand me. People are more than welcome to walk into a store, find an item they want to purchase, and exchange money for that item. The easier and more pleasant this transaction is, will mean that return patronage is somewhat assured. I like receiving good customer service more than anyone, and will gladly frequent a store featuring smiling faces and professional conduct.

Except at the Apple store. That place is one poison punch bowl short of a cult. It creeps me out watching as these plebs worship to the high and mighty cult of Apple.

Except at the Apple store. That place is one poison punch bowl short of a cult.

Demanding customer service

There are people who take their demands to the extreme, like some medieval monarch holding a leg of lamb and baying for more mead and wenches. They’re a paying customer and they know of the power they wield, not only the power of their dollar but also the unquantifiable, nebulous power of their “Word Of Mouth”.

They attempt to get a discount at a restaurant because their steak was medium-rare instead of medium. They want a store to price match, even though an item has been heavily discounted. They want to pay the bare minimum for a computer, but expect a machine that can crunch numbers like Twisties, with enough AI to automatically update Facebook the moment a selfie is taken.

Every now and then a story appears where the store has stood up to demands. A heartwarming story in where a staff member has dared to not serve a customer who is talking on their phone, or in one case even hammering the customer with a 50 cent surcharge for the transgression. Sainsubrys customer refused service and this heartwarming story about a cafe which charges extra if you are talking on your phone.

“How dare they? I’m a paying customer!” the fickle creatures bleat, “don’t they know that Customer is King?” Oh, they know. But they shouldn’t care.

When enough is enough

Let me be as clear as I can here; staff are employed by an employer to do a job as instructed by their employer. This does not include taking instructions from customers to perform the dubious task of bending over backwards to allow a better angle for being kicked in the ass.

I am sure that many are of the belief that their money “pays the wages of these people”, so please let me relieve those of this delusion:

These people are paid by their employer. The employer receives money from the customer. Now, stay with me, because this is the part where it gets complex: the only power a customer has is to either spend their money at that establishment, or spend it elsewhere. The customer does not have the power to tell the staff member what their job is, or to treat the staff as though they’re some kind of peasant, scrounging around for any tender scraps that the customer blesses them with.

If the customer is satisfied with the service they received, they are welcome to take their business elsewhere. If they are particularly precious, and feel like life requires more conflict than resolution, they can also speak with the manager, who I am sure will afford them the same level of interest as the plaque they scrubbed from their teeth earlier that morning.

“What’s that? You couldn’t get off your phone for a moment so you could order your mocha-soy-macchiato-snob-brew? Well, ain’t that something…?”

There seems to be this broader misunderstanding that while the dollar can buy something, the dollar and “Word of Mouth” does not protect customers from the unimaginable horror of disappointment. Businesses are there to provide a service. If a business has failed to meet expectations, then people are more than free to use a different business.

Or better yet, they are even more free to change their expectations.
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I’m an ex breakfast radio DJ who no longer hosts a breakfast radio show so I created this website to give myself somewhere new to make jokes and rant about life, pop culture, celebrities and stupid people.

1 COMMENT

  1. This is definitely spot on. I used to work at McDonald’s and we had some class A d-bags. We had a guy who we pulled in the drivethru who just sat there with his hand on his horn. So. Annoying. Then a woman called our manager once and yelled at her because she had to wait for her food. My manager, being the badass she was, hung up on the lady after she wouldn’t stop yelling.

    The odd thing is that it was the adults and elderly people who were the rudest. (Except for the elderly people who practically lived there, they were sweet <3)

    Just found your site and got to say, I agree with just about everything here 🙂 thanks for the entertaining articles.

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