|Posted on January 3, 2014 at 4:55 PM|
There's a rule of thumb out there that says you can tell a lot about a person based on how they treat wait staff. This theory is so prevalent, in fact, that just about everyone has heard it used as a measure of determining the potential shag-factor of a date. While this theory definitely has merits, a better way of judging a person's humanity is probably how they treat customer service staff that they never see. After all, only a total sociopath is horrible to a stranger in person, but it's surprisingly easy to be shitty to an anonymous voice on the phone.
I've been making my money with words for about 4 years now, but a few months ago I got a bad case of cabin fever. Even though I'd worked in a retail environment a long time ago, I decided that I needed to get out and work with actual people for a while. A schedule, coworkers, and a boss would do me a world of good, I figured. I liked the freedom of being my own boss and being able to earn in a living entirely in my pajamas if I wanted, but I could spot a burnout coming and realized that I needed to do something different for a while. I wasn't looking for a career, just a break from the norm so I could fall back in love with writing. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all. So, I took the first job that came along at a place where ringing phones and grumpy customers are just another day. To help you get the best results, here's what I've learned so far:
They Already Know You're Pissed
You don't need to start out the conversation with a detailed explanation of just how angry you are. The workers just assume that there's going to be a snarling rage-monster on the other end of the line every time they answer the phone. Instead, how about you get to the point and tell them WHY you're mad? It's also a good idea to keep in mind that the person you're talking to had nothing to do with causing the problem, they're just the clean-up crew. Do you yell at the firemen when an electrical short burns your trailer down? Same thing.
Another pleasant customer who isn't going to ruin someone else's day
Speaking of attitudes, having a sense of humor about it is a lot more likely to get you good results. Here are the people who get remembered by customer service reps and discussed later with coworkers – 1. Hateful assholes. 2. People who make them smile. Guess which ones get the best service.
They Have More Power Than They Let On
Reps know exactly what they are encouraged to do, what they absolutely cannot do, and what they can get away with once in a while. Here's the thing though, like any good poker player, they aren't going to tell you that. If you act like a dick, they're gonna do as little as possible and try to get the hell rid of you as fast as possible, but, if you're nice, they can make it rain accommodations. Now, not all companies give their reps the same amount of leeway, but I can guarantee that they all have a few tricks up their sleeves that you don't know about.
If All Else Fails, Act Like A Southern Belle
There is no creature on this Earth who can be furious and sweet at the same time quite like a Southern Belle. People in the Midwest are incredibly passive-aggressive, women from the Northeast have voices that make horny cats sound like the Vienna Boys Choir, guys who think of themselves as tough drop effenheimers like they're Nazis bombing London in 1941, and people from the West are, well, kind of a mixed bag, but Southern ladies are a little slice of heaven no matter how mad they are. "Now darlin', I am mad as a hornet. I know it weren't yer fault, bless yer heart, but we are gonna get this dickens figured out." Actually, a well-placed "darlin'" really goes along way. And it's not just me. While good manners and a Southern accent hit me where I live, I've heard plenty of people remark about what a joy that Southern lady they just talked to was.
It's easy to understand why a person would be irritated when a telemarketer or bill collector called them during dinner time, but if you're calling a company because of a problem you need sorted out, it's not a good idea to make the person in charge of fixing your problem hate you. If you were hitchhiking after car trouble, would the first thing you did after getting picked up be to punch the driver in the face? Next time you want to impress someone, forget treating waiters and waitresses like human beings – they get tips. Instead, be nice to a phone a rep. You'll get laid for sure.*
*Guarantee not legally binding except in Narnia, Oz, Middle Earth, Rebel held planets of the Empire, Non-Federation systems, communities directly controlled by The Ministry of Magic, and Pecos Texas.
Categories: People and Culture