A while back, M offered a reward for missing customer service, and while I’ve been boycotting Macy’s on her behalf ever since, a recent encounter reminded me that maybe we can’t blame it all on the store employee every time.
I was standing in an uncharacteristically long line at my usual Starbucks (Yes, usual. I know all the employees by name and personal hobby. Tai Bo, anyone?). Because my office building is attached to a mall, this particular Starbucks is in said mall. Because it’s summer, the mall is overrun with teenagers, unemployed miscreants and people who generally lack a certain level of social awareness.
Anywho, I watched, HORRIFIED, as three different people in front of me barked out complicated orders, snottily corrected the barista, and were inexplicably rude to the girl behind the counter for no reason. And, like I said, this is my usual Starbucks, so I know for a fact that girlfriend is the loveliest barista a coffee-drinker could hope for. She is smiley and remembers my order and she gets it right every. single. time. So when I got up to the counter, I smiled and said good morning (as I am wont to do when greeting another person). She heaved a huge sigh and said how nice that someone actually acknowledged her as a human being. Clearly no one else had.
So you know what? I can’t blame her if she’s moving a little slower and the counter is a little bit dirtier by the end of her shift. Back in my heyday (2004), I worked at the very first Ben & Jerry’s in town, and people were climbing over each other like wild animals to taste our sweet creations. People would snarl, snap their fingers at me, call me “girl”, anything they thought could get the line moving faster. Then, they would let their children, zipped up on sugar and empty calories, run around the shop making sticky messes and not cleaning them up.
What did I learn? Customers are jerks, and it is H-A-R-D to work in customer service because of it. Most days, I left work all surly and angry and smelling like waffle cones.
There is 100% no reason to yell, growl, or snap your fingers. You are not a wild animal. We live in a society! In a society, you have to use your big girl words to get what you want, and no one will give it to you (without spit in it) if you are screeching like a howler monkey.
Right or wrong, it’s no wonder customer service has taken a nosedive. For example, I bet no one in the 1950s would have dared to throw peanuts at a flight attendant. Emily Post, mother of all that is right with the world, says “Rudeness begets rudeness. If you speak sharply to the bank teller, don’t be surprised if you get the same treatment in return.”
And that Emily Post? She was one smart lady.