Dealing With Difficult People In Customer Service

Hello Readers!

For the past few months, I have been working a customer service job as a front desk associate. Having worked in customer service most of my life, I feel that I have learned how to handle working with a variety of people from a variety of backgrounds and have had a variety of supervisors, both good, and bad as well as been a supervisor myself.

I have also encountered many types of people that have tried to test me and my ability to perform in a customer service role.

I grew up always being told things like “The customer is always right”. In some cases, I believe this is untrue. In my current role as a front desk associate, I am trained to uphold the policies and guidelines of the company that I work for. As a former supervisor, I understand the reasons why we have these policies in place and I have never been afraid to uphold them despite the fact that it may make a customer upset.

For example, we have tanning booths available for our premium members to use. We tell them when they sign up for their membership that if they would like to tan, they will have to present eye-wear before being allowed to tan for their protection. As a result of upholding these policies, I have been called out of my name, I’ve been yelled at both in person and over the phone been told I was rude when I was just doing my job, a little bit of everything. If this desk job had been my first job, I most likely would have quit by now with all what I have had to put up with from some of these customers.

However, after being both at the bottom and being a supervisor, I have learned to stand up for myself. Although I was always taught “The customer is always right”, there are many cases where the customer is definitely wrong. If I am doing my job and upholding the policy by not letting you tan when you don’t have eye-wear, that is me simply doing my job, not me being a rude employee and that definitely doesn’t give anyone the right to yell at me like they own me.
I don’t care what position I’m in, one thing I will NOT tolerate is a customer yelling at me and calling me out of my name. I will be quick to shut it down and ask them to lower their tone. If doing this means that I will lose my job, so be it. Believe me, I understand frustrating situations. I understand that when you go somewhere for a service, you expect to get the service you paid for. When you order something, you want it to be what you ordered and you want it to be in good condition. But there are better ways to handle these situations other than calling someone out of their name or getting loud or getting an attitude with them.

And if telling someone to lower their tone or telling them to not get an attitude with me (and I tell them this in a calm manor) gets me fired, I don’t want to work there.

Everyone, both customers and employees deserve equal respect. Sometimes, employees make mistakes and sometimes, when an employee tells you “No” or “I can’t do this” they are just doing their job. This has really helped me to be more patient when I am on the other side of the table and being a customer. I always remember my experiences as an employee and dealing with a rude customer and that helps me to be a better customer in the long run.

Thanks for reading.

-Mike Harris


Your Support System

Greetings Readers!

(Note: This is based on my opinion and personal experiences.)

Today, I wanted to discuss (write) a little bit about the importance of a support system in life. This support system could be your family, your academic advisor, your coach if you play a sport, fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, friends, professors, God and even your peers.

During my undergraduate experience, I found my support system to be the cornerstone of my success. There were many times when I fell flat on my face and I knew I could count on them to pick me back up.

However, some of my peers do not have a support system. Many of my peers that I graduated with in high school, I gave them a hard time for not starting or finishing college. Many of them chose other pathways. Some decided that education was not for them and chose to enter the workforce. Some of them chose to start a family or go to the military rather than continue their education.

I later came to accept that everyone’s support system and home life is different. This really came to my attention during my summer internship. When I co-facilitated a workshop for first-generation college students, many of the students shared with us that their support systems believed that starting a family or going directly into the workforce with a high school diploma was more of a priority then going to college.

For some of them it was because of financial challenges and for others it was because of pressure from their support system.

This really puzzled me because although I have had financial challenges in my household, my support system has always supported me and my goals toward continuing my education. Even when I switched from a computing major to journalism and decided that I wanted to pursue a career in student affairs, (which has a significant pay cut), my support system still supported me.

Sometimes an individual may have goals and aspirations and there will be people in your support system that do not agree with you. I bet you’re wondering by now “Mike, that doesn’t make since, how can we rely on our support system if they don’t actually support us?” Sometimes, you have to change your support system based on what your goals are.

When I decided to go Greek, my family did not exactly support me. They felt that it was a waste of my time and money, but I found value in being a member of a Greek organization and I wanted to be part of one. Although my parents didn’t support me at first, the person that was part of my support system was my Resident Director who encouraged me to get involved.

When I decided to attend Arkansas Tech University, there were many people that didn’t think I could handle being at a four-year institution but with God as my support system and with the financial support of the Bass Family Charitable Foundation, I made it through. Although God and the people of the Bass Family Foundation weren’t physically there, I knew they were supporting me in anyway they could.

There are times when you may feel alone. When you might feel like there is nobody that supports you. However, remember that there is always somebody who cares, even if they are not physically there.

Thanks for reading.

-Mike Harris





It’s More Than Just A Letter, It’s My Identity

Hello Readers!

(Note: The following is based solely on my opinion)

Because it is pride month, I wanted to talk a bit about the importance of identities, specifically within the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, plus. ) community. Many that I have spoken to who are closed minded or whom don’t understand our community have said things like “Why are there so many letters?, they all mean the same thing.” or have said “Why do you gotta have a whole alphabet of acronyms?”.

Being a member of this community is not as black and white as being either straight or gay. Sometimes I look at our community as if it was cities and states. For example, just because I am from the state of Arkansas does not mean that I have lived in every city within the state.

If a person in our community identifies as a male and says they are attracted to other men, that doesn’t automatically make them gay. If a male is attracted to other men but also is attracted to women then they are bisexual, not just gay.

Because I identify within this community, I know that I don’t “fit in” as heterosexual or straight which is the identity that is considered to be “normal”. When I finally accepted myself and my identity, it felt as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I accepted that it was OK to NOT be “normal”, that I had the right to my identity.

Although myself and many others that identify within this community continue to face criticism from those outside of us, with these identities, we can at least find a group of people that can relate to us in some way.

Choosing to identify ourselves as a member of the community is about more than just choosing a label or a letter to go by. To me, the importance of having these multiple identities is to have a sense of belonging, to feel like we belong to something. And for most of us, that is what we desire the most,  to belong.

Thank you for reading.

-Mike Harris

How TRiO Made Me A College Grad

Hello Readers!

With what has been going on with the government and federally funded student support programs such as TRiO Student Support Services (SSS) and Upward Bound, I wanted to take the time to share how TRiO programs have impacted my life and how the staff members that represent these programs helped me through my collegiate journey.

Since I was in high school, TRIO has impacted my life. I was involved in a college / workforce prep class known Jobs for Americas Graduates (JAG). Through the support of TRiO and this class, I was able to attend tours at universities that I never would have been able to see if it had not been for this class. My family couldn’t afford to just take a trip to a college for me to see if I wanted to go there and many people have told me that its better to decide on a school once you have been there for yourself.

If it had not been for JAG and TRiO, I probably never would have discovered Arkansas Tech which is where I graduated 4 years later. I am the first in my family to graduate with a four-year degree and I did it in exactly four years. I know that I wouldn’t have made it this far if not for the TRiO Student Support Services (SSS) program at Arkansas Tech.

At the start of my junior year, SSS took me in and it became like my second family. I was struggling with my academics and with making life choices and SSS was like a life saver. They helped me by being a second opinion on my course schedule, offering me advice about my major and weather I should change it or not and the workshops offered tons of information such as life skills and study skills that I wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere else on campus.

I knew that the staff in SSS genuinely cared about me as a student and as an individual. They supported me through my success as a student leader on campus and they were there for me when I was struggling with deciding to change my major.

SSS was also a big resource when I decided that I wanted to go into student affairs. With all three of the advisers being student affairs professionals and the graduate assistants being students in ATU’s College Student Personnel program, I had many people to ask advice as well as look up to as role models with themselves also being first generation students.

I could go on and on with how TRiO has changed my life. I could never thank these people enough for how they have changed my life and helped me to become the person I am today. What these programs do for students is phenomenal and I hope to one day be able to impact other students just as the professionals in these programs have done for me.

Thanks for reading!

-Mike Harris



What To Do When You’ve Been Told “You Can’t”

Hello Readers!

There have been many times in my life where I have had big goals and aspirations for myself and for what I want to do with my life. I had many dreams of having the corner office and being the most important guy in the building. Driving my dream car to work everyday, living in a big house and having a family.

However, there have also been many times when I was told “No”, “You can’t do that”, “You’re not smart enough to have a career in that”, “You wouldn’t be able to handle that life”. Many of us experience the words “You can’t” even from our closest friends and family and may also experience the word “No” when we are on our way to that dream job or career.

During my job and graduate school search, I had to apply for more than 50 different jobs before I even got my first interview. I had gotten so many rejection emails that I had almost completely given up on the idea of going into student affairs.

Growing up, I had a lot of problems in my childhood. People have been telling me “No” and “You can’t” as far as I can remember. There were people that told me that I couldn’t handle a student affairs job. I have been told on countless occasions that I wasn’t good enough, that I “can’t” do this, that I “can’t” have that kind of job.

So many people that told me “No” and “You can’t” that I almost started to believe them. It felt horrible to hear that my mentors and / or so-called friends didn’t believe in me. However, although I was very upset, it mean’t more to me to prove them wrong and go beyond what they believed I was capable of.

There were people that said I couldn’t handle college and now I have the highest degree in my household. People said I couldn’t handle a career in student affairs and now I’m going to be a full-time professional while also pursuing my masters degree.

No matter how many people tell you “No” or “You can’t”, always remember that at the end of the day, it is up to YOU to accomplish your goals. It is up to YOU to go beyond your odds and get to the finish line. It is up to YOU to push yourself and put in the work to get there because no matter who tells you “No”, as long as you say “YES”, it can be done.

Thanks for reading.

-Mike Harris