There are so many different terms for customer service but it all boils down to one thing: no one really wants to do it. I'm talking about working behind a cash register or god forbid having to be on a sales floor helping people make decisions that they should have before they left the house. When you step out of the house wearing your uniform (or for the lucky ones that could leave it at work) you knew that the best part of your day was 8 to 10 hours away.
In this Five Things I Learned Working Customer Service I'm gonna cover all of the different aspects of it that I experienced from two pet stores, a mail room, and a porn shop. I could add the hospital because I had to wear a uniform but I wouldn't really consider washing up vomit or moving corpses as a customer service so much as punishment for crimes in a past life. I mean, seriously. Just how many Native Americans did I kill and how many slaves did I own to receive the life I live?!
Trapped In A Conversations
This will happen when you first get on the sales floor and have to talk to someone one on one. You've just punched in and tucked in your shirt and here comes a bored old lady with 26 free hours every day. The worst offenders were old dog owners and young cat owners. I'm not sure why, but its true. With the dog owners they wanted magic pills that would heal their animal. “I hear this contains shark cartilage which is good for them!” Uh, right. Sure it is. Must be from all those nature specials I watched with those German shepherds corralling hammerheads as they splashed on the shore. There is nothing we can tell you that you can't learn from Google. Dogs get old, fall apart, then die. Yeah, you can keep them alive for a long ass time but after a while its just unfair to them. Especially designer dogs. Even Jesus knows those things aren't natural. They're cute but not made for, like, reality. Kind of like Hitomi Tanaka's boobs.
As for the kitten owners, they would get mad that their cat would scratch the furniture. “I don't know why but he keeps on clawing my table leg!” That's what a lot of cats do. They scratch shit. Its 80% of their job. The other 20% is ignoring you or knocking shit off of high shelves. People will give you the life history of their pet and you have to pretend to care. I wasn't very good at that. I would quietly judge them before taking a lot of their money. Most people that work in pet stores hate it there or just want to work with animals...not their owners. My dogs lived long healthy lives eating spaghetti and hot dogs and never went to a vet. 'Hood dogs are the best.
You Lie To Be Left Alone
I know at restaurants that servers get asked “What would you recommend?” Its normal. But imagine being asked that at 6am in a porn shop regarding the newest Puerto Rican porno. I'm sure thousands of customers thought I was a liar or a prude because whenever I was asked if I saw a film I'd say no. The only time I had to watch gay porn was when I checked if a VHS worked. Shut up, this was the early 2000's. I could tell you that I have rented a movie a lot or say “Its super popular” and make you think I watched it, but there is no way in hell I'm freely watching dudes slamming each other. I can barely watch lesbian porn. In the mail room I'd say a package was being sent out that night knowing full and damned well the post office was done for the day and it would leave tomorrow and get there right on time.
If I told the truth every time I was asked for a recommendation or how a product work I wouldn't have sold shit. Sure, the lube is fantastic. Of course these poppers are the best ones on the market! Just buy the shit and leave. When I worked at one pet store we were trained on how to upsale you. If we didn't make you leave spending far more than you intended we failed. You came in for a leash and left with a leash, harness, free food samples, and a toy that your dog just didn't want to let go of. I earned my $5.25 an hour, damn it. Its not my fault you don't love your dog enough to get it a rain coat and boots in Los Angeles.
You Meet Some Good People
The first paid thing for drawing I ever got was for a customer at the porn shop. This guy was stuck writing a script and couldn't figure out how to make some ghosts battle each other or figure out why they would be afraid to die. Two suggestions along with a sketch later he gasped and the next day wrote me a check for $40. He would come in a few times a week and we'd talk for close to half an hour. He never hit on me because he knew I was straight so there was no sexual tension...on his part. I'm kidding! I need to stop joking about that shit. Bad enough I'm 36, single, and have no kids while living in West Hollywood. I don't need to feed that beast.
In the seven years I sold porn I met about four customers that I could talk to like normal people. Sure, they were there to buy Boy Butter and cock rings at ungodly hours of the morning but they were just regular human beings still. They had jobs, families, wives(?!), and liked things outside of porn. I had some of the best conversations about music with people because I'd be blasting Metallica and the Snatch soundtrack while later in the day it became Madonna and Cher. Customers always appreciated when you treated them like normal people.
Being Nice To Us Got You Rewards
This is also known as “the hook up.” Its something that you give to cool customers but friends and family ask for. I used to bring home so much free pet food when I worked at those stores and a shit ton of porn when I sold it. The only thing I brought home from the hospital was germs and stress. I gave John Ritter the hook up on his weed pipe because he made me laugh when I was a kid. Buttman got the popper hook up because he made some of the best films ever. Elton John got no hook ups because he was rude and wouldn't even look at me when handing over his credit card. No discount for you! I won't even get into Huell Howser or Roger Ebert...
If you were nice we'd toss in extra samples of pet food or an extra free rental for porn. The thing is, when you are stuck behind a register for eight hours or more just a few minutes of kindness from someone goes a long way. We do remember you and the next time you come in we're nicer than before. One big secret about most things sold in stores, particularly magazines and perishables, is that we barely paid anything for them. Hell, we got it at likely 30% cost so giving you 40% off meant nothing to the bottom line and magazines got trashed except for the cover. Its not like you would do it for everyone. Just the nice folks.
It Teaches You Respect
I was talking to a friend recently and I mentioned how some people go on dates and if someone is rude to a waiter its a red flag for them that they are on a date with a shitty person. Fronting and facing for hours of my life has made me neurotic when it comes to people picking things up and putting them in the wrong location. If I hold a shirt and see it doesn't fit, I'll fold it the way I found it. I spin cans properly on shelves. I have my money ready when I am in line four people back from the front. I say hello. I don't make their day harder than it already is. I tip well too. I am a great tipper, ladies.
When you work customer service you learn to treat people a little bit better than before you did. Chances are the person handing you change never wanted that job. They had to get it for some reason that upsets them. I know that and have experienced it so I try to be nice even when someone is being rude. You can always spot someone shopping that has never worked behind a register or the ones that did and were bad at it. When you are done working behind a register you get a feel for what it is like to be on the other side.
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