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

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