Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Sad Truth I Learned While Working In Customer Service

The nice guy loses almost all the time. At least this is the case for a good majority of the time in retail and customer service. It's a sad truth I've learned throughout my life of employment. The nastier, more unrealistic and scene causing you are the better you get taken care of. It's simply sad and disheartening.

My road to discovery started while I worked in a major sporting goods retailer while I was going to college. If a sale sign was accidentally left up and a customer was paying and said  in a reasonable, normal tone: "I thought that item was on sale"  the manager would say: "I am sorry that was left up accidentally. If you look at the bottom of the sign there are dates and the sale has expired." Half the customers would say ok and move on and the other half would go crazy and start screaming and saying that it was our mistake the sign was left up, blah, blah, blah. Guess what?! The manager would honor the sale for the enraged customers. Now do I think the sale should be honored? If a sign is left up I do think it should but it shouldn't just be honored for the nasty customers. If anything it should just be honored for the nice customers who don't jump down management's throat.

Next I worked in customer service for a printing company for almost 9 years. Woah! Anyway, every once in a while customers would call with a complaint on a job they received. A really sweet client would call with a legitimate complaint and management would find a way to twist the mistake to be the client's fault so they didn't need to redo the job for free. Now a super "a-hole" would call being demeaning and downright inappropriately nasty and sure enough they would redo the job for free. Best part is their mistake was completely their fault. As an employee I found this so frustrating, why were we rewarding poor behavior?

After that, I worked at a Veterinarian's office for a couple years. Same thing. Sweet old lady would call that her cat was seriously sick and if we were booked she would be told: "Sorry, no appointments available. We can see you tomorrow or you can go to emergency." But if a raging lunatic called freaking out for a non-serious condition we would "squeeze them in." Why are the psychos always accommodated?!

I used to be a sweet person when dealing with salespeople and customer service reps and got nowhere. Through the years I have become nastier and nastier when I need something. Am I proud of that fact? No, not at all but I learned that is the only way I get what I want. And it is a sad fact that it works. The nastier I am more, the more likely I am to get what I want.

Now are a 100% of businesses run like this? No, of course not. But the majority are and that's a sad fact we have to live with. Business owners and managers are really ruining it for themselves. Most people are on to the fact that you have to be a mean lunatic to get what you want and therefore people in sales and customer service are dealing with sheer craziness for a good portion of the day. What is truly disheartening is that the few people who are still truly nice when dealing with customer service never get what they want. Shouldn't it be the other way around? xoxo


  1. See, I had the opposite experience as you, but it was probably because of the companies I worked for. I had a lot of autonomy, and I was always more likely to give the nice person what they wanted versus the nasty one...and most of the time my managers backed me up. There's hope!

    1. Yay! Glad hear there's still hope. Unfortunately this is also my personal experience. I always start off super nice and realistic and 9 times out of 10 I got told no or can't help you and then I flip the switch and now magically they can help. Don't get me wrong I've been helped a few times by being nice but unfortunately not as much as I do when being rude. It's sad but I'm glad to hear some businesses still give the nice guy a hand.

  2. I worked retail for 5 years and at a bank for 2 years, and this is so true! I would usually honor a sale sign or expired coupon if the person was nice, but I would also make it clear that it was a one time thing. On the other side of it though, there are people that look for those situations and do cause a scene because they know it works. In our house when something needs to get taken care of, my husband usually passes it off to me because I know how to get results. I usually try to be nice at fist (you can catch more flies with honey!), and sometimes that works. But more often then not, I have to get nasty. I hate that it has to come to that. I had a really bad experience with our phone company and wasn't getting any results either way. I eventually had to take it to the Better Business Bureau for a complaint, and finally got the results I was looking for. It shouldn't have to be that way.

  3. I think it's the luck of the draw. I always try to be nice because I know it's not their fault directly... they're basically just the messenger. Sometimes THEY'RE nasty though. Then you can go fuck yourself guy b/c my gloves are coming off! hahaha

  4. I always start off with niceness and if things aren't handled properly then I become the lunatic "a-hole". =)

  5. I'm with Jess. Part of my job involves customer service, and as soon as someone starts being rude I'm much less inclined to help them. But if someone's really nice to me I'll go out of my way to help. I guess it's just a personal thing and the fact that I hate rude people!

  6. Uggh! I hate working in Customer Service. It made me hate people because they were so mean and rude but reading this is some insight on why. That's how you get what you want and it is very sad. I am meek. I don't rant and rave over things and I do believe that I get screwed over sometimes because of it. I don't know what the solution is. The customer is always right in 9/10 cases even when they are wrong. Managers will do what they have to to keep people happy and keep people coming back.

  7. I have had it go both ways but...I have definitely had some crazy ones.