What Working in Customer Service Has Taught Me

 

People always say that working in customer service is the worst. After working at a grocery store for almost three years, I can say I definitely agree. I have worked at Market Basket, a New England grocery store chain, since my junior year of high school. I worked as a cashier for a year before I was moved to the customer service desk, where I process returns, answer calls, and sell lottery tickets. After countless hours spent behind that customer service desk, I have learned a lot of things about working retail and just people in general. Here are some of my most important take-aways from working in customer service for three years!

 

The Customer is NOT Always Right

When you work in retail or customer service, people often say “the customer is always right!” However, after working three years at a grocery store, I can confidently say that this is not true; customers everywhere know about this saying and will try to use it to get away with things, like arguing over a price or demanding a refund. For example, many customers have come up to me before, claiming that they were overcharged dozens of dollars for their groceries. They would explain that the items on the receipt did not add up to the total, but I would simply flip over the receipt and show them that it was double sided. Customers will also come up to the customer service desk, claiming that they were charged the wrong price for a product. Oftentimes, they accidentally looked at the wrong price tag on the shelf or bought an item they thought was on sale but actually wasn’t. Customers will walk up to the customer service desk all the time to try to get a refund, even though they are wrong. Therefore, sometimes you have to kindly point out to them where they are mistaken.

 

Some Battles are Not Worth Fighting

This is a general rule of thumb, even outside of retail, but sometimes you just have to let the customer win. Oftentimes, even if a customer was wrong about a price, I would refund them the 50 cents they were supposedly overcharged. I knew that with some customers if I told them no, they would simply demand to speak to a manager. The managers usually have more important tasks at hand, so there is no use bothering them over a couple cents. Sometimes I would even call my managers to come speak to a customer at the customer service desk and they would just tell me to refund the customer so that they did not have to deal with them! So, you can’t fight every battle in retail. Sometimes you have to ask “is the amount of money at stake worth fighting over it?” Oftentimes, the answer is no.

 

Be Patient

I have gained so much patience from working in customer service. Some customers are older and take a bit longer to get their point across. Some customers are new to the area and are unfamiliar with store policies or the location of products. Some customers need to dig through their purses or bags for what feels like hours just to find a receipt. In all these instances, you just have to learn to stand and smile. It gets really frustrating dealing with these situations for hours per shift, but a lot of these customers can’t help it. The customers that really test my patience are those that constantly fight with me about everything I say or question my knowledge of store policies. Oftentimes, customers will not take me seriously because I am just a teenager, despite the fact that my name tag says I have been working there for three years. However, losing my temper would be unprofessional and would only make the situation worse. So, sometimes you just have to clench your fists, grit your teeth, and get over it. Customers will constantly test your patience, but you just have to roll with the punches and remember that you are getting paid to do this.

 

The next time you go to the mall or grocery store, remember how long and painful these retail shifts can be for the employees behind the registers or counters. These employees usually have to deal with annoying and rude customers all day, so don’t make their shifts any worse than they already are! Especially during the pandemic, most of these employees are essential workers, so they’ve been working their butts off to keep providing you with the things you need. So, be grateful for customer service employees the next time you’re at the store; shoot them a smile and say “thank you, have a nice day!” Small acts of kindness like these can make these workers’ days!