Surviving a Customer Service Job
Customer service is the bane of some people’s existence, and a headache for many others. I think everyone should work in customer service at least once in their lives, because it teaches you humility and understanding. You get to see how things can happen, such as long lines, computers going down, and the kitchen of a restaurant getting slammed. It isn’t always the worker’s fault when those things happen. When you have worked in customer service, you have a better idea of how things work, are less bitchy about things, and are less likely to leave a mess. Since I want everyone to work in customer service, I might as well give you a way to survive it!
You need to have an out
When you work in customer service, you need to have an out or an end time of when you will stop working there. When you know it’s a finite amount of time that you need to work in that position, it’s easier to not have a reaction to bad things that come up, or when people don’t treat you well. Knowing that you are working towards that expiration date, the time you will leave, will help you get through those times where it’s harder.
Try to work in time and space for yourself
Working in customer service will take a lot out of you, between the demands of the job, the demands of the manager, and the demands of the customers. It’s important for you to take a specific day each week that is only for you, with no school or work, or at least a part of a day. Take that day to sleep in, do chores, go shopping, or whatever else you need or want to do. Having the space and buffers around the awful and demanding parts of a job will keep you sane and performing better customer service.
You also need to remember that you always have the choice to leave. We all need a job, but you don’t deserve to be treated badly, by customers or by your own management. You always have the choice to leave when you aren’t being treated right. They will make you work double shifts, longer hours than you can, and odd hours. They will also play favorites.
Make sure you have a way to let off steam
Having a friend or coworker that lets you let off the steam of the job can help a lot. You can do this in the form of having cocktails or a movie night where you set a time for bitching to each other first, whatever works for you guys.
Some other ideas are video games, paintballing, and cleaning. If you don’t want to talk about it, and want something where you don’t have to think or worry about the stresses of the customer service job, find something to do that helps you accomplish that.
You can also get friendly with some of your regular customers. Chat up with them if they like to chat with you. Throw out a quick compliment to get conversations going. Having friendly faces and conversations at work can make things a lot easier. Human to human contact is the whole point of customer service. Give it all an actual personal and human element. Once in a while, the customers even tell your manager what a great worker you are because you take the time to talk to them.
Some of the tips I share here are a little sneaky and maybe not the nicest thing ever, but some people are not going to have your best interests at heart and you also need to take care of yourself. Do your job and service well, that’s what you’re there for. Customer service is a service that we all need.
As an introvert, the added bonus of being in customer service is that you learn to talk to people and learn how to make small talk. Other than moving around a lot for most of my life, customer service has helped me learn how to talk to people more. It has forced me to be a better communicator, as well as better at looking and acting nicer.