Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy

Sometimes not sleeping enough really affects how the rest of my day turns out. A seemingly manageable dilemma can become very stressful. I got very little sleep the other night and yesterday morning I was so tired I could barely open my eyes. I felt nauseous and close to tears.

I work in a job where good customer service is a really important. I really strive to make sure every single customer has their issues sorted out immediately. This can become very demanding but when I'm in the right frame of mind, I can do it well. I try really hard to make sure everyone gets what they want or at least a very agreeable alternative, but not every situation turns out like that.

There have been three times in my working life where a customer has reduced me to tears. The first time was when I was working in retail and this woman was being very unreasonable and demanding and I had to get security to drag her out of the store because I felt very threatened. The second time, I had to deal with a very aggressive customer over the phone. That affected me so much I was semi-hyperventilating. The third incident was yesterday.

I had a really angry customer call me yesterday morning. I could understand why he was angry and I was doing my best to help him and explain what was happening but he just became more and more frustrated. It got to the point where I was starting to take his words personally and I too, was becoming frustrated. We ended the conversation on reasonable terms but I felt like I had been in a battle; I was trembling all over. When I hung up the phone, I bolted to the bathroom to cry.

I'm not a very assertive or confident person and when I am confronted in these situations I crumble. When I'm angry, I've conditioned myself not to scream and shout. I end up internalising it and it leaks out as tears. I'm getting better at managing these situations (I didn't hyperventilate this time). I understand I need to learn how to not take it so personally. I'm really trying my best to problem solve as efficiently and as fairly as I can.

However, sometimes I feel, as consumers, we don't realise people working in customer service are just doing their jobs and most of them are really trying to help us the best they can. We get so caught up with our own demands we forget we are talking to someone real. Some people take the whole "the customer is always right" mentality too seriously and assume they are entitled to be dicks to people serving them. We don't realise our words can really hurt someone. Imagine having the power to ruin someone's day, make them dread going to work the next day and remember this very incident for the next few years, if not for the rest of their working lives. I don't ever want to be responsible for that.

I'm not saying all people are angry and threatening. In fact the majority of people I deal with have been reasonable. Sometimes the customer has every right to be angry. However, sometimes I think they are so angry they want unleash their anger on the person working in customer service. When it gets to this point, it's becomes a matter of power. If someone in customer service spoke back to angry customers in the same tone, they would get in a lot of trouble. We need to be more considerate of how we voice complaints and how we speak to people in customer service. They, at the end of the day, are just trying to help you solve your problem. 

What are your thoughts?


  1. Oh no...I'm so sorry you had to go through all that...I too am not a very confident person and I get very emotional over things. I think if someone yelled at me nonstop unreasonably, I'd be bursting into tears on the spot.

    I guess it's the same though in any job as well. I'm an ex-auditor and even though I don't serve as many customers as you, every time a customer gets angry (or even a manager who got angry) I'd feel like crap all day. Sometimes I'd go home and cry.

    Don't let it get to you, although it's easy to you said, they just don't realise it's a real person on the other end of the phone...

    1. It's sad how one bad customer can ruin the day when most people are very friendly. I guess we just need to learn how to take it less personally.

  2. Oh no, sounds like a rubbish day at work to me. I am the same as you, not the most assertive of people - whenever I feel worked up, I just feel like crying. It's really frustrating because I see other people become assertive and eloquent but I'm the opposite and fall apart and forget what I want to say. I can totally understand where you're coming from - when i used to work in retail I had similar situations with awful customers who feel they can intimidate you to get what they want. But for every horrible customer there are a 100 really nice, reasonable ones - and luckily the awful customers are few and far between :)

    1. Yeah, that's true. Most customers are actually very friendly and when someone is extra nice, it can sometimes make you forget about the mean customers :)