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Why so miserable? (customer service)


martinQblank

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Am I a grumpy old man or am I alone in thinking that a basic level of customer service has gone to the dogs in this country?

 

Case in point - bought a bloody expensive coffee from Starbucks this morning and the young lad served couldn't even look up and speak never mind thank me for my custom. he isn't alone, many people in customer service roles look fed up, miserable, don't say please and thank you. It's not just the young either, I rang a helpline last week to get an appointment moved - pretty basic you would think - and the "woman" on the other end of the phone was boarder line aggressive to the point that I politely ended the call and rang back.

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In fairness McFly, I worked in Burger King on and off from 1995 to 1998 and I only smiled if someone smiled at me.

I don't think it's a generational thing. Not many people enjoy serving people and find it hard to front a smile.

I'm not saying this is you because I do understand where you're coming from, but I've seen people - especially in the likes of Costa Coffee or Nandos - talk to these younglings like they are pond scum, and that's got to beat you down eventually.

I'm not saying they're right to be bitter, but it's easy to sympathise with them as it's a shit, shit job if you're in the wrong establishment.

 

Call centers and Customer Service lines have always been rude if you get a bloke, in my experience. Ladies are always nice I've found, but the fellas who ring or are the recipient of a call can be utter cunts.

 

THEN, you have the other elitist wankers like a few who work in comic book shops and those fucking Hobbit and dragon helmet painty shops.

In Forbidden Planet in Dublin, there was an amiable young chap - I would estimate 16 at best - buying Watchmen back when the movie was coming out and he asked for that, From Heck and V For Vendetta. The chap serving actually fucking sneered at this lad and said "Jumping on the Alan Moore bandwagon are we? Growing out of Spider-Man are we?" and nudged the chap beside him. The youngfella went puce and started stuttering.

I actually had to step in and tell your man to apologise to the poor lad. Extremely unfair treatment of some lad looking to spend his money in their establishment.

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Funny in this country, it seems like half the people moan about lack of customer service and the other half moan if someone tries to help them!

 

I find it OK, generally. I make the effort to be nice to people because they're helping me as much as it's their job to do so and they're rarely anything but nice in return.

 

I find telephone staff pretty reasonable too but I have some sympathy for those that aren't because the poor bastards must get grief all day every day. I never give it out to the poor fucker on the end of the phone. It's someone getting paid nack all and not the one causing the issue. I used to cringe hearing my Mam screaming at some poor sod whenever she had a complaint. If they're dealing with headcases like my Mother all day long then they deserve every bit of sympathy!

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I rang a helpline last week to get an appointment moved - pretty basic you would think - and the "woman" on the other end of the phone was boarder line aggressive to the point that I politely ended the call and rang back.

 

So...was it a woman or not?

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I’d wager most of the Forbidden Planet staff would fail the Paul Heyman ‘do they look like they reek?’ test as well.

 

 

I find service in restaurants really depends on what type of food you’re getting. From my experience the more expensive places like Itsu and Nandos have chirpy and attentive staff, but in the McDonald’s and Subway I tend to get served by morons who dither and sometimes give me the wrong order. Most barista’s I’m served by have that overly-friendly, almost plastic kindness you see in the US which I usually can’t be bothered to deal with (one even asked me if I had ever used Tinder… that’s overstepping the line!).

 

 

Saying that, and to protect myself against accusations of being a misery guts, I prefer that type of service a million times over to rude or uninterested staff who just grunt at you. Thankfully the latter don’t appear much apart from at motorway service stations. 

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The problem with most customer service based jobs where you get bad customer service is that they are relatively easy jobs to get into and provide somewhat regular hours but the pay is always shit. When you are a student or broke they might be your only choice to earn some cash quickly. Usually it's not what someone really wants to do. Unsociable hours, shit pay, poor conditions but you stick it out and often you can have more bad days than good. When I did call centre work I found it great to begin with but soon the constant beep to signal an incoming call absolutely destroys you and on the other side for me working in a shop or more a bar/ restaurant and seeing people enjoy themselves while your stuck working on a Friday night can drain you. Add that to being in a lousy tipping culture country and the "why should I?" attitude can easily come into play.

 

Add that to the fact as a group we are a miserable bunch us British, on more than one occasion i've had people deal with me when i'm working and be absolutely disgusting from start to finish for absolutely no reason. There is no reason to treat an innocent like that if your baggage is from somewhere else, being angry because of the company with an individual is one thing but for no reason is appalling.

 

I know during my time in customer facing rolls I was 85% of the time pleasant and provided the best experience possible but that 15% was there be it because I was serving some chav wankers, cleaning up disgusting messes or because my grandfather had just died I know I wasn't the most pleasant person. To be honest I think a lot of customers need to learn to be a human being first. Unfortunately those who need that are the ones who cause the others to have terrible experiences too. 

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I think the thing is... if I see someone smiling and saying/doing the right things I tend to (cynically) think that it's all just part of the corporate training. If they don't smile or are rude then I think they are dickheads... they can't win! 

 

That said I do have a belief that you have to get the right people for the job but most of these positions are non-skilled, low paid jobs so you get what you pay for. 

 

As a boss I tend to find the lower the educational attainment the less emotionally intelligent people tend to be, leading to them being less concerned about the 'experience' of the customer. That's a huge generalisation I know but part of it is down to wanting to have a career not just a job to pay the bills. The more invested you are in the job you are doing the better you are at doing it. 

 

With customer service I have a few rules usually...

 

1) If i want your help I will ask... if I don't then quietly stand there and wait until I am ready! Don't come over all matey asking if you can help... no you can't! 

2) Be attentive, polite and courteous - get what I want, bring it to me relatively quickly and ask me once if everything is okay... If it's not, I will tell you! 

3) Don't over-do the friendliness... we are not friends and I am here for a reason... 

4) If I say I am not happy, do something about it. Give me a free (cheap) drink if its a problem with food at a restaurant. It's not a big thing but I will be more than happy with that, I don't want a refund just interest in my problem...

5) When I am done bring me the bill quickly... don't dither, have a chat with your mate at the till and forget the goddamn card machine! Nobody pays with cash anymore... just bring the machine so I can pay and leave! 

 

I don't think that is particularly unreasonable... 

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As someone who has worked in retail and hospitality and catering (restaurants) the main problem is that as a business the only thing that matter are the customers, so for example I could be having a great day as far as my job is concerned, and then you will have people purposely complain about something to get a refund or money taken off a bill, I could go to a table in a restaurant (as a server) and ask them two or three times if everything is okay then at the end of the meal have them kick off as the food was cold, of course they failed to mention this the two or three times I went over to see how they were or to drop drinks off etc. As a business even if my track record is immaculate the guests nine times out of ten will get something taken off if they push hard for it and I can see why servers get fed up or frustrated as people just take the piss and it can make or break you. Add to that labour saving, short staff, shit staff and whatever other issues are going on and its difficult for some to keep in high spirits. The worst thing is as well that those that are cool about issues (e.g. lets say the food was burnt and needed remaking) get nothing as the business will always try not to hand things out for free if it can possibly help it. 

 

Personally if I ever fucked up I would always offer to buy someone a drink out of my own money, it wouldn't happen often and I think its the least I should do if I have fucked up someones evening or date night or whatever.

 

It's a tough business on low pay and not much support from the business or the customers.

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5) When I am done bring me the bill quickly... don't dither, have a chat with your mate at the till and forget the goddamn card machine! Nobody pays with cash anymore... just bring the machine so I can pay and leave! 

 

I agree with the first points, but you would be surprised how many pay by cash, its easily a 40/60 split I would say. 

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Fucking hell Baz, I know that shop and the staff are pretty poor but that's over the line!

 

My missus believes in tipping regardless of service but I always tip according to the service received. I've never had any major issues apart from the odd rude person and I do try not to give call centre staff grief. One girl did once outright call me a liar so I politely hung up, called back and asked for a manager.

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Poundland is terrible for this. Absolutely horrendous. Puts me off going into the one on Argyle Street in Glasgow due them being cheeky bastards. No I don't need tinfoil for burning drugs. Imagine saying that to a customer?

 

You have to pick the correct audience for stuff like this. When I worked at Robert Dyas, if someone asked for methylated spirit I'd warn them that we didn't have any cold ones. 9 times out 10 that got a laugh. 

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Poundland have people working for free for fear that their benefits will be taken away, it's a disgusting system and I don't begrudge the staff for not being chirpy when that's the case.

Yep, this.  I don't expect some poor sod on a scheme like this or on a minimum wage zero hour contract to kiss my cock, if they say nothing to me or don't look at me I don't care.  If they're rude, that's an issue but I'm not going to grass them up or anything.

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