Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How Can I Help You?


During an illustrious *ahem* career, I have always worked in customer service jobs. I’ve answered phones, assisted enquiries, made appointments, and even helped out Santa. I can’t imagine not working in a role like this – it’s what I’ve always done, and I think that I’d go quite batty if I was left to my own devices on a regular basis.

People are the best part, and the worst part of a job in customer service. Some days you will have a string of customers who make you laugh, take an interest in what’s going on, listen considerately to what you are saying, and are just pleasures to deal with. Those days you leave work with a spring in your step, and an absolute faith in humanity.

And then there are the other days; the ones where you encounter twat after miserable sodding twat. They leave you feeling wrung out, prone to headbutting, and with an absolute certainty that society is going to hell in a handbasket and that it would just be best to debunk now. You can’t predict it – one second you’ll be having a lovely chat with someone, the next second *BAM*… they’re staring at your chest, breathing heavily, and patronising the shit out of you.

You always hear about how you should be good to the people that serve your food in restaurants and cafes. You know that there’s a great window of opportunity for them to tamper with your mushroom fettuccine, and that it isn’t out of the question for bodily fluids to become involved. You know that, you abide by that (if you’re clever), and you eat your pasta without any contamination.

What people don’t seem to think about is that ANYBODY in a customer service job can make things difficult for you, if they feel like it. Sure, you probably won’t actually be consuming anything that they’ve handled, but paperwork can be misplaced, waiting times can suddenly inexplicably double, previously known information can be spontaneously forgotten, and, “Oh sorry – did I just hang up on you?”

For the most part, us customer service people are well-balanced individuals. We are not generally given to physical violence and attempting to place curses upon the people that we encounter. A “please” and a “thank you” can go a long way to ensuring that we don’t actually give you the wrong directions to the nearest service station.

Don’t patronise us. Don’t use the fact that we’re wearing a name tag as an excuse to stare at our chests. Don’t have a domestic at our counter. Don’t answer your phone while we’re serving you, and expect us to stand there patiently while you try to figure out what’s for dinner tonight. Don’t ask us a question, and then interrupt us halfway through our answer. Don’t get angry with us if the information that we are giving you is displeasing to you. And for god’s sake – use your manners.

Receptionists are people too, damn it.

PLEASE NOTE: I’m not saying that I’ve ever done any of this stuff. I’m just saying that if I wanted to, I could.


  1. Sounds like a bad day for a receptionist is like a bad day for a teacher!

    (You forgot to mention the smelly ones, by the way.)

  2. damn straight!
    i'm so over this idea that the customer is always right. cos they bloody well are not!
    and it is not the waitress' fault the weather is bad on your holiday. i do not control the weather.
    oh yes there are plenty of smelly ones...

  3. Oh Sarah, you always read my mind. I have these days ( months) like this. C


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