After working in retail, customer service, and the food industry I can say that they are the most stressful jobs I have ever held. People are so mean when it comes to their food or what they expect to receive. My entire life has been spent trying to make others happy. I don’t want to upset anyone and I was completely baffled at how easily people would lash out at me in these industries. Some customers were not happy no matter what I did and I would go above and beyond to try to please them. It is sad to me that people have to be so mean to one another and cannot let simple things go. I have a few tips on how to be a good customer, A.K.A. not being a complete jerk.
Treat Others the Way You Want Your Mom to be Treated
I could say to use the Golden Rule and treat others the way you want to be treated, but apparently a lot of people don’t care how they are treated. Think of the employee as your parent, sibling, child, or significant other and ask yourself how you would feel if someone spoke to them the way you are speaking to them.
Stay off the Phone
This is so frustrating when you are trying to talk to a customer and they are on the phone, especially if a customer is talking to someone on a Bluetooth device. When I worked in food service people would come in to order and they would be on Bluetooth headphones talking to someone and I would have NO clue if they were talking to me or to the person on the phone. They would then get angry if I didn’t respond to them or get their order right. I know sometimes you HAVE to take a call, but you can apologize to the employee and make the call as brief as possible. Do not just stay on the phone and talk about your date while someone is trying to help you.
Don’t Punish the Messenger
Often the person standing at a register, counter, or taking your order is not the ultimate decision-maker. They HAVE to do as they are told so that they will keep their job. Giving the employees a hard time does not solve your problem and it usually upsets them. Do you appreciate being yelled at for something you can’t control? I highly doubt you do. They are doing their job and it is a really difficult one when trying to make the customer and the boss happy.
Everyone Makes Mistakes
We ALL mess up sometimes. Perhaps someone messed up a food order or didn’t give you a discount when you were buying a new sweater. IT IS OKAY! These things can be fixed and there is no reason to be an absolute pain when pointing out the person’s error. Usually, if you point it out in a kind and respectful way they feel more obliged to help you and you will leave feeling satisfied with the experience.
The Business has to Make a Profit
Businesses can not just give things away, they have to make a profit. So much money goes into opening and maintaining a business and those costs have to be covered. If the price of something is higher than you think it should be, you do not have to berate the employees over it. If you think a store or restaurant’s prices are too high, then recognize that you have learned that lesson and do not return. There are no harsh words required.
Your lack of business is lesson enough, but if you still feel like complaining you could address the situation directly with the company online. Our society seems to applaud individuals who are willing to call people out and complain, but I think there would be a lot less stress on both sides if you quietly let your opinions be known.
Behind the Scenes
Your server does not rush back to refill your drinks or the salesperson is not friendly when you are checking out, we have all experienced these situations. How you deal with them says a lot about the type of person you really are. Are you compassionate or dismissive? As a customer we do not know what is happening in the workplace or private lives of the employees.
My first job in retail was at a children’s clothing store and some days we would be packed. I had been trained, but when the line became super long and people were making mean comments about how slow I was, I would panic. It certainly didn’t help me work any faster to ring up purchases and gift wrap when all I could hear were snide comments. Sometimes employees are having a bad day and I can assure you that we have all had days where it seems nothing is going right. Have some compassion, be kind and supportive, maybe the employee needs a bolstering comment to help them make it through the day. It does not hurt you to give them one.
I sincerely hope that next time you are in a store or restaurant you will take time to remember the employee is a person. They struggle with issues just like everyone else and being cruel to them is a sad use of your time and energy. Let mishaps roll off your shoulders or kindly point out any difficulties you are experiencing. Most importantly, smile, it may be just what they need.
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