Customer Service Reps are People Too

Almost everyone complains when they have to call customer service, I know I'm guilty of it. TheOatmeal.com recently posted a cartoon about why you would rather be doing anything other than calling customer service, and it paints a nice, funny picture of why people hate calling customer service. Belive it or not though, customer service representatives are people too!

I hear people say "you should wait tables at least once in your life" (and I completely agree- I did). I believe the same goes for being a customer service rep.  I used to get incredibly frustrated when I would need customer service support and think that they were all just rude, uneducated simpletons.  But a few months after I graduated from college, I got a job as a "vacation planner", when in reality I was a customer service rep in a call center. It was stressful (and that's an understatement).  I constantly was being yelled at by unhappy customers and supervisors who thought I was the cause of the customer's frustration.

Stand up for your CSR's. Like I said in my previous blog, you need to create a positive environment for your employees.  This includes standing up for your customer service reps when necessary.  When I worked in the call center, I learned to take the horrible insults people would throw at me if something didn't go their way. Yes, I know it's frustrating, but a lot of times my supervisor was actually busy or I didn't have the authority to discount a vacation 50%.  Every once in a while though, it would have been nice to feel like my supervisors were on my side.

For example, when I would come home for the summers in college, I waitressed at a local restaurant. There are plenty of times when I'd apologize for mistakes that I made or mistakes the kitchen made. However, one incident sticks out like none other. Keep in mind this was a busy Saturday night when we had a live band and standing room only. A diner was upset we didn't have a certain type of appetizer--alligator (although he had dined with us numerous times before and knew this coming in) and his daughter's order wasn't quite what he thought it was going to be. He screamed at me every time I would come to the table. I know he was frustrated, but what he didn't know is that his hurtful words really got to me at that time.

What really stood out to me was my manager. I finally told the diner that I would ask my manager to come speak with him. My manager had heard every time the patron lashed out at me and was fed up. He proceeded to tell the upset man that his actions were rude and disrespectful to me and that his "ruined" meal was on the house as long as he left immediately and didn't come back.

Usually you hear of people catering to everyone's needs and having the mindset that "the customer is always right".  However, you need to find the balance between respecting your customers and standing up for your employees. Customer Service Representatives are people too and deserve respect.

Have you ever had to deal with a situation like this? How did you handle it?