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4 Things You Learn from Working in Customer Service

Most of us have endured the pain of a minimum-wage customer service job, as those jobs are often our best options. Whether you’ve worked in retail, food service, or any other job where you get pushed around and underappreciated, you’ve probably had a fair share of learning experiences. As painful as this work can be, at least something positive (besides cash) comes out of it. Here are the things most customer service workers have learned in their time on the clock:

1. Being kind pays off, even if you have to fake it.

No matter how awful a customer may be, employees are required to treat them with patience, kindness, and respect. While it’s beyond frustrating to have to smile and be sweet to someone yelling at you, it feels good to know you were the bigger person in the situation. More often than not, however, your kindness is noticed and appreciated by other people, and they continue to spread the positivity.

2. Employees are trying their best, and most things are out of their control.

During every customer service job I’ve had, I’ve been blamed by customers for things I have literally no control over. Customers have gotten angry over the products offered or the lack thereof, the staffing, and just about every other issue that is out of an entry-level associate’s hands. While the experience is frustrating, it’s helped me be more empathetic and understanding towards other workers in the industry.

3. It’s possible to survive even the worst of social situations.

Anyone who’s worked with the public could name a few instances where a conversation was certainly less than natural. When dealing with the general public, you run into people who just don’t know how to act. As awkward as these situations are, they get easier the more often you face them. Customers say inappropriate things, make you uncomfortable, or just don’t leave you alone. Staying calm and polite in these situations is definitely a skill. At the very least, a miserable encounter makes for a really good story.

4. Patience is important – and building it takes time.

Customer service working requires patience above all else. Whether it’s waiting for a rush to calm down or just waiting for time to pass, patience is the key. The more you practice being patient, the easier it gets. If you have enough patience to survive 8-hour retail shifts, you have enough patience to get through anything.

Maybe everyone should be required to work in customer service for a while, just so they can learn a thing or two about communication skills, patience, and kindness. No matter how far you climb up the job ladder, you should never forget the valuable things you learned from the grind of a customer service job.

All images courtesy of giphy

I'm a sophomore at the University of Utah majoring in Communications with a minor in Gender Studies. When I'm not studying or sleeping, I enjoy figure skating and listening to podcasts with my cat.