The Annoying Customers, Part One:

I work two different jobs that involve customer service.  The nature of the beast changes whether it's the weekend job or the weekday job, but it's still definitely a beast.  A drooling, moronic beast that is prone to uttering the phrase "it's not my fault" as a defence mechanism, and is prone to impulse sueing

After dealing with these customers for a while, I realized there were numerous different "types" of customers that call me.  And I'm sure they call you, too.  So, here's a field guide so any customer service professional can easily identify and spot the annoying customer. 

And laugh at them.  Because, naturally, I have to make fun of them.  It's what I do.

Sue me.

The Helping Hand

This customer will contact you because he is suffering from a slightly unusual problem - something is not workign the way it should in your place of employment, and this customer is suffering as a result.  Alternately, he could be making a request that you are capable of covering, but do not usually have to deal with. 

For example, he could have a printer jam because he used an incorrect size of paper not covered by the default printer setting.  Or he could have a jammed bill in an ATM.  Or he could want a coffee that's "not so hot" and wants you to put an icecube in it (and you have to run to the backroom to get an ice cube). 

Even after you fix the problem, this customer will not be satisfied.  Instead, he feels it is his job to offer you advice on how to perform your job.  He will quickly offer you a solution that would fix the current situation at hand.

Quite often, these solutions would indeed make servicing this particular customer easier - while slowing everything else down.  That printer should automatically adjust itself to fit paper sizes, rather than requiring "crazy technical skills" to adjust that in print settings.  That ATM should have a wider mouth so it's easier to pull clear bill jams (and easier for people to, y'know, steal money).  And you should have a freezer by the cash register, stocked with ice cubes, so that you don't have to run to the back to get those ice cubes.  Who cares if it's in the way the other 98% of the time? 

How do you deal with these guys?  Two simple words.  Repeat after me:  mmm hmm.  Say it while he speaks, and nod emphatically.
Then, finger him when his back is turned. 

Works every time.

The Caped Crusader

This lovely customer is, about 75% of the time, a middle-aged white female from the upper middle class.  Quite often, she belongs to the PTA, a church group, or some other social organization.  She is usually very fond of bake sales.  She has led a nigh-on perfect life, and as a result, she becomes overly angry when faced with minor problems that most people would look upon with slight inconvenience.  Whereas most people will simply shrug or sigh, this customer is known to shriek "what do you mean, there's no milk?" 

To put it simply, this woman has the same level of pespective as a short-sighted mole.  On a foggy day. 

This customer will feel so slighted by the failures of your company that she feels a certain responsibility - to the public at large, you see - to prevent it from ever happening again.  This woman often sees herself as the next Rosa Parks... only instead of that whole bus thing, her goal is to make sure that no one will ever have to wait in line on a busy saturday afternoon ever again

No matter what you do, this customer is going to be angry for your failures.  And she will tell you of her plans to rid the world of the evil threat you represent.  She is going to write letters to the editor (because she's friends with the editor, of course), she is going to spend some of her money to place an ad on the TV listings channel, and she is going to call into the radio.  After all, how dare you knowingly put ATMs into service that occasionally time out for five minutes?     

Luckily, this customer is very easy to deal with.  Endure her tirade until she gets tired and leaves (her blood sugar is probably getting low... it's always getting low). I find that it helps to make lists in your head while it's going on - for example, compile a list of animals you'd find on a farm, or four letter words that best describe this woman you're stuck dealing with - and then smile sweetly when she leaves.  And don't worry - she's not going to call the radio or deal with the editor or anything like that.  Because these people have very little follow-through.

Either that, or their husbands laugh at them when they furiously describe their newest crusade over the dinner table.

The "God Bless You"

The God Bless You's are probably the nicest sort of annoying customer you can get.  But make no mistake -they're still annoying.  And you're allowed to feel annoyed by them. 

It generally works like this:  they have a problem, and it's often a fairly big problem in their life right now.  They could have a drunk uncle who keeps borrowing money from your institution, leaving the poor customer stuck footing the bill.  Or they could have left their wallet at your store, and need the money inside to pay their rent.  So on, and so forth.

When they come to you hoping for a resolution, they are so surprised to see you fix the problem quickly and helpfully that they come to tears (brought on, no doubt, from their recent stress) that they grab your hands and repeat "God bless you" over and over again.

Usually, there's a crowd of your co-workers watching.  And, far from feeling like a hero, you feel like you're receiving praise you don't really deserve.  After all, you didn't do anything special - most of the time, you probably just followed company policy or did some basic human act of kindness (you left a message on your service to no longer loan to the drunk uncle, or you looked through the wallet to find the lady's name, looked her up online, and gave her a call letting her know you had her waller). 

So what?  You're a nice guy.  You certainly don't want to bring God into this, right?

The problem with thiscustomer?  They're about 50% likely to start crying.  And that's rarely fun. 

1 comment:

  1. I am very very glad I do not work in customer service anymore. So many people think it's okay to treat customer service workers like a lower form of life. Pretty much all you can do with most of them is laugh at them after they leave.