Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Customer service


Thanks to George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden and a few dumbass decisions of my own, I've been back to working monkey jobs in customer service for a while. For the most part, when I think of getting another job it involves getting a "better" monkey job, in which I'm paid better, get better benefits and/or enjoy myself more. I'm largely resigned to my this station for the time being, however.

A handful of things one notices about the rest of the world, however. Lessons one should, but often doesn't put to use in their own life.

For instance, when you're in a debate - or, at least, what you imagine as a debate - and think you're about to say something smart. Shut your mouth right then. You are about to say something really, really stupid. People do it to me all day long. I promise, you're only putting me in a difficult position, because I will simply answer the question you've set up to entrap me with your keen logic and then you will feel stupid, so I have to come up with a way of couching the simple answer so it doesn't sound like your question was outrageously stupid, which is hard, because it actually was.

And when you're talking to the monkey worker, don't give them what you imagine to be a better way of doing business. First of all, most of the time I could actually respond with why the business plan is why it is myself, but would have to spend a lot of time and energy couching it in terms that don't make you look stupid, so I'll usually stick with a more basic truth, "I don't actually make these kinds of decisions," and make myself look stupid instead. All for you, Mr. Public, because your stupidity is so immense that it's not always easy to hide it even from you.

Take closing time. In my experience in life, closing is the one immutable rule. "Sorry, we're closed." In theory, you could wave wads of cash and someone somewhere will open back up for you like in a movie, but the rare person who even attempts a bribe in this matter is far too poor or cheap to even make a respectable attempt, rendering the entire attempt futile.

More often, they try to simply argue or ask "clever" questions. My favorite is, "Why did you answer the phone then?"

Um. Because it rang?

I've called tons of businesses after their closing time, on occasion even what turned out to be hours after their closing time, and had people answer the phone. Sometimes just some poor janitor who doesn't know much. Maybe he wanted to help in some way. Maybe he was just hoping it was his ride calling to say they were outside. Who cares? He answered because the phone rang.

Mind you, there are even beyond that, even better reasons for me, but who needs them?

The more common ruse is the "debate".

"What? My clock only says 11:59."

"Oh, well... Goddamn! If your clock says so!"

This one is often accompanied by a very official tone suggesting that there is a city ordinance or some such thing requiring businesses to respect the time pieces of their customers.

Mind you, bars and convenience stores all over run their clocks 15-20 minutes fast and close up based on their fast clock rather than what anyone could easily demonstrate is the correct time, so obviously no such ordinance is in force, here or anywhere, so your attempt at debating has only made you look foolish and to no end whatsoever.

I'd like it if they did. I'd set my watch back 10 minutes slow and hit several places that close right as I'm getting off work and stand in the door pointing at my watch.

Businesses don't say they're closed unless they're closed. Businesses don't open when they're closed because you beat them at the debate. Doesn't happen.

Just say, "Thanks," and let it go at that. Everything else is wasting both of our time and making you look even stupider.

4 comments:

Jonathan Lapper said...

You mentioned the time "11:59." You wouldn't happen to work at Blockbuster by chance would you. Or any video store for that matter? If so, I have a lot to say on the matter - from the inside that is. Everything you wrote sounded eerily familiar to me. I'm curious as to your response.

Neil Sarver said...

Actually, no. Thankfully.

I've considered the video store work a number of times, but considering my temperament, I doubt I'd be much good for it. Perhaps at Scarecrow or something of the like.

I work at a phone center for a pizza company, taking mostly delivery orders. The fact that I don't even work in a kitchen is one of the factors making me genuinely powerless to do anything after closing time.

But, as it goes, people are indeed dumb all over. We've very much become a society of coddled children and handle it very poorly when things don't go the way we expect them to.

Jonathan Lapper said...

I'm happy for you that you don't work at Blockbuster. I worked there for about three years as a manager in the nineties - Oh Dear Lord did it suck. People coming through the door at 11:57 and then browsing the titles for twenty minutes. Families coming in with their children and renting ten videos on the most gorgeous Saturday afternoon you've ever seen. Customers constantly asking you, "What's good?" "Is this movie funny?" "Will I be too scared watching this?" - How the hell should I know you moron! And practically all other customers treating you like you're some form of sewer sludge. Oh and customers never lose tapes, it's always your fault. But much worse than the customers was the company itself. If the customers treated you like sewer sludge the company treated you like a common criminal. They scrutinized everything you did, dictated all behavior and were intolerant of thinking for yourself. The day I left there was the happiest day of my life. I hope they all get run out of business.

Neil Sarver said...

I think people assuming I have the same taste in anything as them is a problem that comes up time and again in all customer service jobs. My tastes are many things, similar to most other people's is frankly never one of them. That one's just confusing, as this is so ingrained in me that it never occurs to me to enquire of the tastes of strangers.

The customers blaming the company or often you personally for their own failing is another universal. It does become difficult to cope with some days. In fact, I think a small part of me actually does die every time.

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