You know the obvious customer service jobs, maybe you're also familiar with some of the less obvious jobs that still have customer service aspects (see street pharmacist). However the way that customer service in general gets advertised is..criminal.
For the most part your customer interactions should be pretty straight forward and far from being noteworthy. Ringing up groceries and bagging them while a customer patiently waits, walking a customer who knows the basics through technical troubleshooting, or taking down a restaurant order for a mild mannered family, to name a few. Where the suck comes in, is when you factor in the customers who have the ability to put a stranglehold on your sanity. They can be found anywhere and hopefully understanding what to expect ahead of time will give you a fighting chance out there. The following are some examples of the customers that will be the bane of your existance while on the job.
*Disclaimer - Cracked in no way guarantees that your mental health will not suffer from working in customer service, furthermore we take no responsibility for any false hope inspired by the above.
This poor creature is not familiar with the products your company offers to say the least. They come in with a defective unit, so you offer them some possible explanations and a resolution to the problem that they're having with their new purchase. Clearly not comforted by this they exclaim "but it was working fine last week!". You sigh thinking that the thing about last week, is that it was last fucking week and has no bearing on their shit ceasing to work today whatsoever.
Understanding Their Reality: Being unfamiliar with electronics of any kind, they just want to have some small understanding of this foreign object of theirs to hang on to, since the fact that it broke when they can't understand what might have caused it to fail, inflicts mental torment upon them to no end. If only we could somehow join their dimension, where all things that were working in the past continue working eternally, perhaps we wouldn't still be putting off our overdue car maintenance.
Being a mechanic would be a dream job
The Traditional Approach: You painstakingly attempt to educate them on the product and then some of the possible causes for their problem; for instance maybe it came from the manufacturer already faulty, or a power surge damaged it, or perhaps it somehow got water damage. You tackle the subject at every angle you know of and just when you think you've laid it out in plain english and you're getting through to them, they reply "I just don't understand, I may not be too familiar with these new High Defamation TVs, but I never touched it! It just doesn't make any sense....".
Fuck It, It's Your Last Day: Avoid explaining the actual possible reasons as to why their product or service stopped working. They don't want your damn educated guesses or generalities, they just want you to tell them exactly what went down. With a hard concrete answer they'll be allowed some confidence that they know how to make sure they don't have the same problem again. So what if there's no way for you to know exactly what caused the their product to fail until it's returned to the manufacturer and tested, are you going to deprive this customer of the ability to sleep at night? You tell them with a straight face, voice unwavering, that when they tried to change channels with their remote, they accidentally pointed it at just the wrong angle, reversing the polarity of their new TV, rendering it utterly useless.
Having an unhappy customer requesting compensation or making a complaint is expected some of the time. If no one ever called in to complain about a product or service not working properly, you wouldn't be in the lucky position you're in, would you? This is the customer that takes it to the next level. The "I want $200.00 credit for my residential internet service being down today". "Well sir you see you actually only pay $40.00 a month for th-
Understanding Their Reality: A lot of the time they probably know that they're being ridiculous, it's just that they've been put over a barrel one too many times by other companies, or perhaps, by your company. At this point they picture that companies rate the performance of their call center representatives based on the number of customers that they've screwed.
But not this time, oh no, they're not backing down. Nevermind that what they are demanding is completely unwarranted or sometimes physically impossible; the normal rules don't apply here, because they're the goddamn customer.
The Traditional Approach: You patiently listen to their complaints and empathize with the fact that they're distressed by the distracting small white flashes on their TV screen during the hockey game. Then after you've heard them out, you apologize and explain that you simply don't have the authority to stop the spectators in the stands of the hockey game from taking pictures with the flash on. At which point they demand to speak to your supervisor or someone who does have the proper authority.
Fuck It, It's Your Last Day: If the customer is especially angry, interrupt them mid rant by saying "Sir/Mam, I love you.". This will simultaneously confuse and calm them. Then while they're still phased, continue as if it never happened. Tell them you'll get the NHL commissioner (who you obviously have a direct line to) to confiscate all of the spectators' cameras immediately.
This customer may have come in to render goods or services, but the person who really ends up paying is you. They first approach you to ask a question that you'd expect at a department store, so you help them out. Then they have more questions; no problem, that's what you're there for. Then they start talking about something innocent like how it's amazing to consider all the new technology there is these days, and how they never had the conveniences we have back in their day. Before you know it 30 minutes has passed and you're standing there as they tell you about the time they almost had to kill a man behind the old Eatons building.
Understanding Their Reality: It's not hard to imagine what's happening here. They're likely isolated at home and they've either forgotten or no longer care about the social cues that most people normally adhere to. At this point they just want some company and they don't care where they get it (unfortunately for you).
The Traditional Approach: You're not a jerk, so you listen intently to them and wait for the appropriate time to interrupt. When you do finally get the chance to tell them you've enjoyed chatting, but you unfortunately have to get back to work and be available to assist other customers, they respond with "Oh I understand, that's no problem. You know I used to be just as dedicated to my department store job, except back then..." and so it continues. Hopefully your boss spots your predicament and rescues you by calling you on the intercom to tell you to head to aisle 9 for an urgent mopping. For the not so lucky ones, you're looking at enough material to write a biography.
Fuck It, It's Your Last Day: You could be a dick, but that weighs heavy on the conscience. I mean, they're mostly harmless right? Considering how worldy they are in their old age, some of their stories are actually pretty interesting too. What you do is turn the tables on them by telling them your own stories, except the most mundane crap ever... until they want nothing to do with your boring ass.
If you encountered this person outside of work you'd simply avoid them. But on the job what a fortuitous encounter it becomes! You get to provide them assistance with whatever absurd issue they've come to you with.
Understanding Their Reality: Just like how you should be thankful that you can still feel pain after an injury since it lets you know you're still alive, be thankful that you can't make sense of this customers' warped version of reality; at least it confirms that you're still mentally sound.
The Traditional Approach: Lets be honest here, there's nothing in the company manual about helping a customer who's claiming that Hyundai bugged every inch of their vehicle and home.
Fuck It, It's Your Last Day: There's only one easy way out here and that's by having someone else take this bullet for you. Your least favorite co-worker? They're now the specialist that Mr.Crazy needs to talk to. Once you have introduced said co-worker, wait just enough time so that you don't look like you're abandoning the customer, but not so long that your co-worker catches onto your plan, then proceed to slip away...
Generally customers have it better than customer service workers because as a customer, if you blow up on a less than helpful customer service rep, usually the worst that can happen is you get hung up on or kicked out of the store. As an employee, if you snap on a hypercritical customer and unleash a tirade of insults, you risk losing your job and your livelihood (*Note in some cases it may be worth it just to see the customer's expression while they try to process how offended they are at being called an incompetent junkslut ). However that's not to say that customers can't have equally infuriating experiences. Some customer service reps you may encounter:
A Rep Who's Immediately A Condescending Prick To You
A Rep That Has Absolutely No Idea What They're Talking About
Or The Rep Who Just Does The Bare Minimum To Get Rid Of You
For any customers who have had to deal with some of these difficult customer service reps, it's no wonder that some turn into 8 Customers Everyone Hates