Why I Love Customer Service
by David Lloyd-Jones
‘You work in customer service?! And you’re on the phone all day listening to people’s problems? I couldn’t do that. Haven’t got the patience for it’.
‘But you must get sick of answering the same stupid questions all day, surely? It must get so annoying’.
‘I bet you just want to hang up on them after a while, right? It must be draining!’
These are just some of the responses I get from people when I tell them about my customer service work. And I’d be lying if I said that from time to time over the course of my career, there haven’t been moments, on a particularly difficult call, where I did feel this way. But what I can truly say is that for every one of those moments, there have been a thousand positive experiences. Because what I’ve learned, whether it’s working in international corporations or small factory offices, is that there’s one thing that ties all customer interaction work together. It’s a simple fact, and one that really applies in a much broader sense than just customer service.
People want to be treated like people. That’s it. And so many organisations and their employees get this wrong. If you see your customer as a number with a dollar sign attached, or if you see that call in the queue as something that you need to get rid of so you can go to lunch, you are doing it wrong. You’re doing customer service wrong.
Every person you speak to on the phone during your working day is an individual, having their own working day. They didn’t necessarily want to make this call. They might be having the worst day of their lives, for all you know, and are understandably irritable and even irate. The next caller might be making contact to thank your company for outstanding service. My point is that you just don’t know, and that’s why you have to Listen. With a capital L.
The Big L
Listen, understand, adjust, and help. As a people person, which you absolutely need to be to work in customer service, these things should come naturally. Customers want to communicate with a human, who is going to give them an answer. They want their frustrations and problems listened to, and who doesn’t? We all go through the same experiences, on the other end of the phone. As a customer myself, I ask for help from software, TV, or mobile phone companies and am more often than not made to feel like a burden to the company instead of the reason it exists.
If you can be the person on the other end of the phone that actually listens, that helps someone solve their problem in the way that they expected it to happen, and maybe even exceeds those expectations, you’ve done your job. That’s not for everyone. Customer service takes a degree of humility. Sometimes you are going to apologise for other people’s mistakes. Sometimes your own. Mistakes happen. But if you can do all this and then move on to the next contact with a completely fresh attitude and perspective, you’re doing it right.
And that’s why, in the face of the protestations at the top of this article, I genuinely love this work. Because I’m a human that likes helping other humans. It’s as simple as that.