The Service Point of View

A few weeks ago, Steve Curtin posted a guest blog at entitled, If You Want Better Customers, Provide Better Service. The impetus for the article was an infographic from Impact Learning Systems with the title Customer Service from the Service Point of View.

The infographic itself contains pet peeves of workers in some of the most common and visible customer service jobs: customer service reps, waiters, baristas, and flight attendants.

For instance, baristas want you to know the following: “We don’t have a janitor. I have to clean the bathrooms, too. Please, please clean up after yourself in there.”

The infographic includes five similar statements for each category of service work, and they’re all pretty reasonable, but Curtin takes issue with the conclusion: If you want better service, be a better customer. Essentially, he argues that employees focused on such customer behavior probably aren’t well suited to the service industry, suggesting instead to provide better service.

A Lesson for Everyone

I pretty much agree with Curtin’s take, but see two distinct lessons; one for the customer, one for the employee.

  • For employees: Manage your expectations. If you’re complaining the 500th time about people not bussing their own tables, their behavior isn’t the problem. It’s your attitude.
  • For customers: Don’t be jerks. Common courtesies should be extended everywhere. If you’re ordering food, hang up the phone. Whenever possible, put away your shopping cart. You might make someone’s day.

The Tipping Point

As a veteran service industry worker, my experience indicates that almost every customer service worker can name a few customer peeves with very little hesitation. Typically, the most vocal complainants were generally the least happy employees. Often, they complained about tipping. I have no patience for complaints over tipping.

Many years ago, my father told me that if I didn’t have enough money for a tip, then I didn’t have enough money to eat in restaurant. It’s a good rule to live by, but not everyone sees it that way. As a service worker, you have to understand that. It’s just not getting worked up over.

Be Reasonable

When I worked as a bartender, the happy hour price for a bottle beer was $1.50. The majority of cash-paying customers paid with two one-dollar bills and put the change in the tip jar.

Many of the people I worked with expected to be tipped one dollar for every drink they served, which is completely unreasonable. A 33% tip for opening a screw-top bottle ain’t bad. Especially when you do it 100 times in a four-hour shift.

Some tip more, some tip less, and some don’t tip at all. For the most part, it comes out in the wash. All things considered, I made a decent living serving drinks.

Regardless of which sector of the service industry you work in though; you come across an inordinate number of jerks. For whatever reason, the service environment brings out the worst in a lot of people.

In all aspects of our lives, we would do well to not be jerks. Or less jerky anyway. And for those of in customer service, you just have to take the good with the bad.

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