August 20, 2009

...And One More Time

Conversation at the box office yesterday:

SECURITY: There's a woman out here who'd like to make a complaint to the manager.

ME: Can you ask her to approach the window?

SECURITY: She doesn't want to approach the window. She wants you to come outside.

ME: Okay...


ME: Hello, madam. How can I help?

WOMAN: Oh. You're the manager?

ME: I'm the box office manager, yes.

WOMAN: Well, I need to complain to someone else then. It's about you.

ME: Okay...

So at that point I went and found the venue's general manager and left the woman in his capable hands, and returned to the box office to wait, uneasily, for his report. Apparently, the problem was that when I'd served this woman half an hour earlier, my disposition had not been sunny enough for her liking.

Now, look.

I know one of the key tenets of any customer service job is to maintain a sunny disposition no matter what. But lady, try and see things from my point of view: there's a line fifty people long behind you that I have to clear, I haven't had a day off in twenty-nine days straight, and furthermore I have a horrific hangover because when I came into work to see a show yesterday on what was supposed to be my morning off, that show cancelled right as I arrived and I had to spend two hours helping to give refunds to the 200+ angry people who'd bought tickets — so come the end of the day, I had needed a few drinks to unwind.

So I'm sorry I wasn't as smiling or communicative as you think I should have been. I really am. I wish I had the mental fortitude and emotional patience to be able to maintain a minimum level of friendliness to every customer, even when (as was the case with you) the first thing they say to me upon approaching the counter is that the queuing system is poorly organised. I would also like to point out that I've had thirty-seven-minute arguments with other customers without once raising my voice, and every day this month I've dealt with blowhard, egotistical journalists with kindness and courtesy even when, really, I've wanted to tell them to fuck off and die. I even had a customer buy me a drink the other night because I'd done them such a good turn. So hey, on balance, my customer service really ain't all that bad.

But, okay, I still won't try to pretend I'm perfect, and I'll even admit I could have been a little friendlier with you, and once again I'll apologise for that. However, I would also like to suggest that if you started treating service employees with the same amount of respect and decency you give your friends, instead of telling on us to our superiors and making us feel like tiny, inadequate failures — if you had a little compassion, for God's sake! — then you'd probably get that smile that's so important to you, ten times out of ten. We're people, too.

Just a thought, you know?


Kirjasvig said...

This woman should try to live in Estonia for example. In here, when a customer service worker has a really sunny disposition, customer often just feels plainly weirded out.
I heard it was even worse in Russia.

MalApropos said...

Did you perhaps roll your eyes at her? :-)

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