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5 Ways You Suck at Customer Service Without Realizing It

#2. "Can You Not See That I'm Busy?!"

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From a Customer Service Point of View:

If you ever see another can of beans, you're going to track down the Jolly Green Giant and rip his asparagus dick off. You've been stocking canned goods for an hour, and every time you get close to finishing up the shelf, some old person hobbles by and picks one up right where you're obviously working. They can't just pick one off of the other shelves that clearly haven't been straightened up yet. No, they have to have that exact can of beans from that exact row, forcing you to replace it. Again.

Just as you're finally finishing up, you hear a steadily intensifying shuffle from behind you, accompanied by the faint smell of beef stew and potpourri. Fuck it, you'll be done in 20 seconds anyway, so you continue what you were doing. Fifteen seconds later, you hear frustrated sighs, followed by a hand jutting out in front of your face. It rudely grabs a can, almost beaning your cheek in the process, and then angrily shuffles away. What a fucking dick. They couldn't just wait 20 goddamn seconds?

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"Thanks for the beans, dickhead."

Where You Went Wrong:

That customer has no idea how long you have left on your task. Or how long you've been at it, or even what your position is at the workplace. All they know is, "Need beans."

Not much will piss me off more when I'm shopping than a stocker who won't get the fuck out of the way. I'm not talking about minor little occurrences where you can easily just reach around them and say, "Pardon me." I'm talking about when you say that, they look you directly in the eyes to acknowledge that you're there, and continue to work. Because their boss said, "Stock this shit," and, by God, that's exactly what they're going to do. They'll be damned if they let annoying setbacks like customers get in their way.

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"I think I'll look you dead in the eyes and put this one away reeeaaal slooooow."

It's actually kind of amazing how as a customer you can see a stocker as nothing more than an inhuman obstacle you have to overcome to get your precious beans, then you can put on the uniform and become a stocker hours later and see customers as nothing more than an unending flow of interference keeping you from doing your job. I guess the key is remembering that as the employee, it's actually your job to be invisible and out of the way, where the customer has no obligation whatsoever to make stocking easier for you.

After all, the store doesn't exist to keep the shit on the shelves, it exists to get it into the carts of customers -- so it's not so much learning to embrace each customer as the precious child of God that they are, but just recognizing that the customer's role is literally to fuck up your stack of cans. When customers ruin your schedule by buying things, the system is actually working perfectly.

#1. "Would You Like to Buy Every Service We Offer?"

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From a Customer Service Point of View:

You've helped your customer find everything they need. You tell them the price, and they hand you their card. Now for the sucky part. The part where your manager and the home office has forced you to push as many extra services as humanly possible. Your job depends on it because if you don't sell a certain amount of extras, your ass gets canned. Every new service you present to the customer makes him visibly angrier, but there's nothing you can do about it. You see that anger 30 times a day, but nothing you can say to your boss will prevent you from having to continue pissing off your customers. It's policy.

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"Welcome to GameStop. My manager is here today, so I apologize in advance."

Where You Went Wrong:

You didn't do anything wrong. It's not your fault. It's the company's fault. I have no advice here -- if you run through the offers quickly, then it sounds like you're being terse and rushing them along. If you go slower and really try to sell them on the benefits, you're wasting their time. You can't roll your eyes and say, "I know this is annoying, just bear with me," because they'll fire your ass. There is no perfect way to do it, because what you're being asked to do is annoying as shit.

GameStop executives don't get to see first hand how many people get flat-out irate after they say for the fourth time, "No, I don't want the completely bullshit 'laser etch protection.'" They don't get to feel the wrath of the guy who's in a rush, stopping in on his lunch break to pick up a birthday gift for his brother ... only to be bombarded by a billion useless offers that he's never, ever going to use. All the executives see is the increase in profits that come from the people who are sick of the endless line of pushes and just give in to shut them up.

The last time I went to GameStop, I was asked to get a PowerUp card, followed by a subscription to some magazine, followed by an explanation of game exchanges, followed by etch protection and extended warranty offers, followed by an explanation of how their website works, followed by a request to take a survey about their store. No exaggeration.

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"Hey, pull out your phone real quick and look up the fine for assault in this town."

Jesus Christ, I understand the concept of upselling, and I know it's a business. But there is a fucking limit to what I'm willing to tolerate when I'm shopping. Every time I shop at a Kohl's (a chain of clothing stores, if you don't have one) I'm bombarded with requests to get their "sink yourself into massive debt" cards, followed by, "Please stop by our website to take our survey and mark 'Very Satisfied.'" Go fuck yourself. Don't tell me what to mark on a survey that's asking me about my experience at your store. If that's how you're going to pitch it, then don't have a survey at all. Or just make "Very Satisfied" the only option. It just blows me away that a company would even have the balls to tell their customers what to mark on a form asking them for their honest feedback. It's like asking, "What can we do to make the store better (please answer 'nothing -- your store is perfect')?"

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"Great, now using the following two words, please describe our store: 'Perfect' and 'Euphoric.'"

I'm sorry, I have to take a moment to calm down. My point to all of this is, I totally understand that there are plenty of customers who are clueless, offensive, overreacting pieces of shit (Adam Tod Brown covered that here much more eloquently than I ever could). But having the right attitude while working customer service can win you life's ultimate prize: the right to not have to work in customer service any more.

John is a columnist here at Cracked. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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