I’ve always told myself that it takes a special kind of person to be able to (successfully) work in customer service. Someone who is outgoing, enjoys working with people, and most importantly, someone who has patience. In general, my personality doesn’t include any of those traits. I’m pretty shy, although I’ve gotten much more outgoing throughout the years. I don’t really like working with people in terms of servicing them. I don’t have much patience, especially when it comes to dealing with different personalities and attitudes.
The summer after I graduated high school, I was a cashier at the PX (Post Exchange on military bases; same concept as Target or Walmart, just on base), and at that point I was very shy and I didn’t really like people. Once I finished working there, I told myself I’d never work in customer service again.
Fast forward four years, I’ve finished college, and thanks to majoring in journalism and media, I’ve become much more outgoing, much more tolerant of people, and a little more patient. During college, all of my internships have been within the news and entertainment industry, so the people who I dealt with were celebrities, or people of some sort of status.
I can definitely say most of the high-profile people I dealt with were very low maintenance, but the ones that most people haven’t even heard of had personalities through the roof. It never really bothered me because I know that’s just how they are, and I didn’t take it personally. I was “just an intern,” so I expected those people to not take me seriously.
My internships weren’t really “customer service,” but they still required me to please people and serve guests, so I guess it technically qualifies. Recently however, I had an experience that was definitely more customer service based, and I felt it. Since I’m 6 months post graduation and currently not working, I have gotten extremely bored and restless.
I decided to go to a temp agency so that I could get out of the house and have human interaction from time to time. When I met with my recruiter, she let me know that most of the temp jobs would be concierge and reception work, and I was fine with that because that kind of work is easy, and I just desperately wanted something to do during the day (and make extra money of course).
My first assignment was last week, and it was to do concierge work for three days at one of the office buildings in the city. Before I started, I was a little nervous about the type of people I would encounter. Being in the building that it was in, I had a preconceived notion about the type of people I would interact with. I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong.
The people who I worked with were perfect examples of how co-workers should be, and the majority of the tenants of the building were extremely nice. A lot of people spoke, and many even took time to stop at the desk, ask my name, and hold long conversations. I was so shocked! Of course, there were people sprinkled here and there that were sour and had zero interest in anyone other than themselves, but that’s to be expected.
So, with the few customer service experiences I have had, I have come to the conclusion that I feel like everyone should work in customer service at least once at some point in their lifetime. I’d like to say it’s a very humbling experience, and it makes you look at people who work in those positions for a living completely different. I was always raised to treat everyone with respect no matter what their job title is. Like that one meme says, “treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO.” That’s how I’ve always been, and I will always be that way. But many people think that just because someone is there to service people or clean up after people that they are allowed to be treated as an inferior.
While I was a temporary concierge, I noticed that people thought I was supposed to be some type of miracle worker. It’s like they forgot that, just like them, I had a specific job description, and some stuff was out of that description. People complained to me about stuff that I didn’t even know what they were talking about, and then got annoyed if I didn’t have a direct answer for them. Working in customer service, you notice just how selfish people really are.
On the flip side, a lot of people in customer service positions have bad attitudes no matter how generous the customer is, and I feel like that’s what makes customers treat them the way they do. However, if you really take time to observe the personalities of people working in customer service, janitors, etc., they are always very friendly. Especially the ones who are older. A lot of times, they are just happy when people speak to them and acknowledge their existence. The biggest issue I had when I worked as a concierge was the fact that I would speak to people and they wouldn’t speak back. I find that so rude. I mean, how hard is it to just say hi? 🙄
Customer service is a very hard and trying industry, but it’s so important to remember that the people working in those positions are human just like you and me. They deserve just as much respect as someone in a senior position, because they do play a vital role in our everyday lives.