One topic I wanted to bring up is the amazing ability customers possess to shoot themselves in the foot. Does this ever happen where you work? A customer has an issue that needs resolution but before anyone can even attempt to fix it, they erupt into a ball of rage at anyone they feel is to blame for their predicament. It happens at least once a week where I work. I don’t know how much of an exaggeration that is, but if it is an exaggeration, it’s not by much. Thankfully, since I’ve been in the warehouse and haven’t had to deal with many customer issues, I haven’t had to have anyone flip out on me. I just get the benefit of watching grown adults whine about first world problems like little children. Good times.
This scenario usually plays out thusly:
The customer comes in because of some issue with something they purchased.
The customer explains said issue to lowly employee (poor sap #1). This is usually followed by a statement about what they would like to see happen to keep them happy.
The lowly employee has to explain why the issue happened. At this point, the lowly employee has to either tell the customer they can’t do anything for them under the rules of their company OR presents a resolution that the customer doesn’t like.
The customer’s frustration – and the frequency with which they huff and shift their weight from leg to leg and back again – increases. The customer then repeats the only acceptable resolution to their situation (the one that won’t happen).
The lowly employee repeats their options.
The customer requests to speak to their supervisor (poor sap #2). Really, they want the CEO of the company but barring that, they’ll settle for the store GM. They really get someone one or two steps below the GM.
The lowly employee walks off to get their supervisor (probably someone just slightly higher up on the food chain whose work life can be summed up with the equation: “shit I have to deal with > the money I’m paid”).
The supervisor might have to first explain that they’re either a direct supervisor or “one of the managers” when the customer asks if they are THE manager. Carrying on, the supervisor repeats the options, backing up what lowly employee #1 said, which only infuriates the customer further.
The customer gets worked up and now demands the GM so the supervisor pages for a manager (sometimes the actual GM, buuuuuut sometimes not) to come over.
The manager (whose work life can be summed up with the equation: “shit I have to deal with < the money I’m paid < complaining I’ll do about how the money isn’t THAT much better than the lowly employee #1”) comes over. NOW, this manager might be open-minded and might be willing to listen to the customer. Maybe the manager isn’t. The point is, the customer probably won’t ever find out which way this manager is leaning toward because once the manager walks up and says, “Is there something I can help with?” the customer starts to dig into him/her.
This explosion will probably include expletives about the other two poor saps that wouldn’t help them. Insider tip: calling employees that work for that manager “idiots” or “fuckers” or the like probably won’t go over well. Anyway.
The manager will then either ask the customer to step off to the side (a mark of a very calm & collected person in the retail world!) or to leave the building (a.k.a.: “get the fuck out of my sight you worthless piece of crap, I don’t have time to deal with you trying to return a remote control from a year ago.”).
This is where it can diverge into very different outcomes.
Rarely, the customer will pick the option to go with the manager to calm down long enough for the two parties to come to an understanding and maybe a resolution can be reached or maybe not.
Generally, the more entertaining of the two options will occur. The customer will tell the manager that they won’t go anywhere followed by an even more expletive-laced diatribe about everyone they ever had to talk to at the store and how they will never shop their again and why the company is destined to go out of business and go fuck yourselves while you’re at it, thank you very much. Keep in mind, this all happens before the manager can even decide if they want to override whatever his employees told this customer before he/she even showed up. The manager can’t even hear the customer’s side of the story and only hears how the customer believes the manager should go fuck himself/herself.
At this point, they’re either ushered out by security or by the police depending on how long and how loud the expletives lasted. If you’re lucky, the customer will throw whatever they were trying to return across the building. One time, I saw a guy punch a stop sign as he stormed out of the store. True story! Perhaps he thought the stop sign was telling him to stop being a d-bag?
Moral of the story? Don’t be a d-bag because you might just get what you wanted in the first place. I guess this moral can be applied to nearly anything you do in life if you think about it. Hey, what do you want from me? Not all of my stories have profound solutions. This IS my first entry in over a year, after all. Give me a break.
More soon from the frontlines...