We’ve all been on social media sites, and we’ve seen the messages and memes that are shared so often at this time of year. This year, I am going to write my own.
After nearly 30 years in customer service, I can tell you that this is not my favorite time of year. Working in customer service is hard enough. Working in customer service and watching the changes that have occurred over the years is much harder. During the holiday season, working in any aspect of the service industry becomes nearly an impossible job.
After so many years, I can tell you honestly, I don’t enjoy customer service. I love helping people, but I am absolutely, positively not a fan of customer service. In a service job, any service job (and I have worked many of them) I am the face (or the voice, if I’m working in a call center) between the company, and you, the customer. I have to find the balance between what the company wants and what you – the customer – want. It’s not an easy place to be.
I don’t make company policy. Much of the time, I find the policies as difficult to work with as you do. But, in all honesty, many of the problems I have to resolve, are not created by the company. Some of them are, true. But most of the problems I have dealt with over the years, are created by the customer themselves. It’s a harsh reality.
The holiday season becomes brutal for those of us in service. The companies that we work for demand longer hours, we’re dealing with more customers, and often the companies we work for (particularly in travel and lodging) overbook our reservations leaving us with little to no options.
I have no problems bending over backwards to help a customer who truly has a problem, and they did not create it. In fact, those are the people I prefer to help. I’m good at what I do, and if there is a solution to your problem, I will do everything I can to find it. But if you are going to scream at me, or not face up to your responsibility in the situation, I am not going to help you. I’m not going to be able to assist you, no matter how much you demand I do.
In our house, we don’t celebrate the holidays. We’re usually working. We choose to do things differently, and our days are often less stressful because we’re not trying to fill our schedules with unrealistic expectations. It also allows us to help the rest of you when you need it. So while we exchange gifts or have a tree, this holiday season I have one request for the rest of you.
While you are traveling, shopping and going about the rest of your holiday traditions, please keep in mind the people who are helping you do all of these things: remember the people who are working at your grocery stores, your retail shops where you buy your gifts. Remember those who are working in the call centers while you are placing your orders, those in the travel industry (airlines, rental car agencies, hotels). These are the people who are coming in early and working late, giving up time with their families to make your holidays better. Give them a smile, and tell them a heartfelt “Thank You.” That is the best gift you can give them, and it will make their day a whole lot better.