“ Have you had experience working as a Customer Service Adviser? Tell us about it here. „
When I was 18, I managed to get a well paid job at a national insurance firm based in Walsall, West Midlands. I had never ever been in a role that involved customer service or sales before I took this role.
In my experiences, you either have good customer service or you don't. It's a strange one really, because I found that I never used to have the confidence to speak to anyone I didn't know over the telephone or face to face, but after having been in a few telephone based customer service roles, I found myself being the one to initiate or lead these types of conversation.
To me customer service is all about making sure that you are putting the customer at the heart of everything that you do, and that you always keep them informed of anything that is happening or anything that you are doing that affects them in any way. You need to make a good first impression during the first few seconds of a meeting/conversation taking place, to enable you to gain someone's trust and build up a good rapport. Being able to empathise is also a good trait to have, being able to put yourself in somebody else's situation and understanding what they feel.
If anyobdy out there is maybe put off by being in a big call centre, or having to speak to people they don't know or speak in front of people they might get embarrassed in front of.....forget all that and give it a go.
If you manage to get a customer service role at the right place, you will be trained up and given the love and support you need to be more than a success. Take me as an example, I went from some scrawny, aggressive teenager, who didn't like talking to people, to a customer service and sales executive that took the company by storm, both for my sales and customer service (great customer service = increase in sales). I have now moved from that job, and ended up starting up my current company's 1st ever telesales/telemarketing team, and it is expanding with me being the driving force behind it and this is for the 5th biggest company in the whole of the UK!
If you can talk, you can provide great customer service, it all comes down to how you profile yourself and how much you want to help others.
I have worked in retail since I left school so for round about 3 and a half years now, I never knew what it would be like to be a customer service assistant in a shop and my goodness the job I took was not what I expected. When you walk into a shop as a customer you often get greeted with a smile and someone saying hello to almost every customer who enters the shop and if you miss one you desperately try and make it up by getting another member of the team to approach them in another manor.
I worked in M&Co for 2 and a half years, when I first started I assumed it would be plane sailing, just say 'Hi' to customers and smile all day long so when you get home after an 8 hour day of work you no longer feel the need to smile constantly.
Truth is it doesn't matter if your good at paperwork, cash handling, approaching customer or any other shop that may involve retail or customers. You have to want to speak to them and start a conversation if you don't like people or just don't like making conversation with complete strangers then a Customer Service job simply isn't for you. I personally love talking to customers I always have since I worked in retail not everyone does and you can often see it by there attitude.
The main aim is to use high levels of kindness, friendliness and persuasion towards the customer at the end of the day your job is to please them but most of all get them to purchase something to keep you in a job and the company thriving.
My favourite thing was actually answering the phone to customers I wish I could have put my own ring on what I could say but it was as simple as 'Hello M&Co Marie speaking, how can I help you?' with an enthusiastic voice hoping customers would also be along the same wave length as you. The chances of a customer responding back in a polite manner was pretty low. As an adviser you have to deal with rude customers, who always think they are right and by this what they say you usually have to agree with. So if you really don't like people shouting at you in front of everyone or complaining about a person or product this job isn't for you. You have to learn to take it on the chin and accept it, It shouldn't be something that will effect you from sleeping etc.
It can be a tough job no matter were you are not all customers will want to be approached or want a conversation with you and usually this is made obvious. Even in my new place there are some people that want to look around in peace buy something and leave but that one word 'Hello' can be a great help they know you are there and happy to help and be approached. Plus I still see regular customers from M&Co although I have now left and some will stop and chat today.
I started off pretty timid if I am honest with not much confidence or experience. But now I love speaking to customers it isn't a fake smile anymore it is genuine. Yes the job may not always be that fun but it can be if you make it. I now go into shops when I'm not at work and usually end up being able to tell if their customer service is good or bad simply by the way they introduce themselves to you and say 'hello' if they don't say anything and pretend they haven't seen you or ignore you then they really are in the wrong job and I have seen it before! But in some places I go in and they have a real friendly smile I don't like being approached which sounds a little hypocritical but if they just say 'hi/hello' and smile its enough for you to think they're doing a good job. The WORST thing I have heard customer service assistants do and I do admit I did it at the start of my first job is complain about how long I had left of a shift, or how bored I was, or nothing to do things like this not only make conversations awkward with staff but can cause issues with customers hearing or cause problem for the manager. I've learnt to keep things like this to myself until it is dead in my shop and then moan about it in my head to myself!
Another thing for me personally is I went into M&Co for my first interview thank goodness I got the job, I'm not a great lover of fashion for myself I go more for comfort but they sell some lovely clothes and being able to pick out things for customers and give my opinion on things was great fun! y job now is still customer service based but its a completley different type of shop. Working in a customer service filled environment can give people such great experiences and great skills that can be put forward for many things in the future.
This is only my opinion on Customer Service Advisers. Yes honestly I think it is great fun, it is certainly not plain sailing and can be a struggle at times. Keep cool when customers get worked up and hold your own. After all they are supposedly always right! The majority of customers especially in my new place loves a chat and like someone to smile at them and greet them, complimenting a purchase to will give you something to talk about. But if you really don't like talking to people or even approaching people I'd say get a warehouse job or a cleaning sort of job, But in all seriousness you have to want to talk to customers if you do it because you have to it usually shows, act natural and it'll go well. Being a Sales/Customer service adviser brought me out of my shell and has given me confidence today. I amm so glad to still be in this role sort of role now!
For almost two years I was a Customer Service Adviser at top UK fashion store, Dorothy Perkins. I was in sixth form at the time, so only did a few days a week, but feel that my length of stay in that employment taught me exactly what working as a customer adviser is about.
The most important thing you need to do is in the title of the job: Customer Service! It's important to keep the customer happy, and if that is out of your control, to calm them down and give them what they want. The amount of times I had a customer who demanded a refund because the dress they purchased didn't fit, who were rude, obnoxious, and indignant despite the fact that it is their fault for trying it on in the first place, and I've had to smile whilst they've sworn at me and apologised profusedly whilst giving them their money back!
So what sort of things does a Customer Service Adviser do? Dealing with customers is obviously the most important aspect of the job, and that means them all, the nice ones and the rude ones. Cash handling is often a bit part of the role if you're working in the retail or banking industry. On the other hand, you could be working at a call centre. My boyfriend worked in a Royal Mail call centre for a few years and he said it felt like the end of the world everytime he sat at his desk and listened to people complaining all day long! I'm sure that was an exaggeration, but I can see how a call centre job would be very uninspiring.
Keeping a happy attitude and a smile on your face does help, and looking professional makes you more approachable. Quite often, people do judge you on how you look, and if you don't look how a typical member of staff is expected to look, then you might find customers not taking you seriously and giving you a hard time.
Keeping calm under pressure is one of the most important things, as it is easy to lose it when people are shouting at you all day long!
I wouldn't recommend working in a customer-facing environment such as this if you are anti-social, or dislike talking to strangers. A fair amount of confidence is definitely needed, along with a lot of persuasion power!
So you need to speak to a company. You call them-press lots of buttons and get through to Tech Support. You're talking to a call centre-right ? Well no sometimes you're not.
Some of the largest companies actually have advisors working from home. To the unware customer it makes little difference -or so they think but in my opinion it's a really good thing for the customers as you have happier and better motivated staff. I know I'm one of them !
I first came across my job on the internet-someone had posted that he thought he'd actually found a real work at home job that wasn't a scam . I admit I was skeptical but the company concerned was a household name (a large TV/internet company) so as this guy was writing a blog of his experiences I decided to follow his progress and see what happened.
He passed the interview and started three weeks paid training. He spoke highly of the trainers and his fellow trainees and explained a bit about how the training was done -remotely using a mix of computer based training and conference calls. So far so good. Payday came around mid training-yes they all got paid-on time and correctly-even better. So I followed his blog as he went into live calls and it really sounded like the kind of job I could do-needed some technical awareness but customer service and been a good comunicator were equally important. So I too applied.
I passed the interview-did my training at home and before I knew it I was taking my first calls.
I had worked in call centres before and the thing I really didn't like about them was the battery farm approach-tethered to your desk-having to ask permission to go to the loo etc. Working from home banished all those bad bits. Yes I have set breaks -just like in a call centre-but if I need a drink or the loo I also have a set amount of time to self allocate for personal time. Some shifts I use it all-some hardly at all.
The only equipment I needed was a PC, broadband connection and a telephone line-we connect securely through a VPN (for the benefit of any techie-types wondering about security) and our data is as secure as if we were in a call centre.
My friends wondered if I'd feel isolated working alone as I'm very much a people person. The answer is no-as well as a steady stream of customers on he line I have screens open to my supervisor and to senior techs for any assistance I might need as well as a general screen with my collegues for the inevitable exchange of chat both work and non work related.
Our stats are consistently higher than our colleagues in call centres-probably because like the battery chickens v free-range-we're less stressed by our enviroment but we have access to the same resources that they do. In fact when we talk to them they are quite envious at times.
Other benefits of working from home-no fares, no lunches to pay for, no work clothes to buy and of course no travelling time. You finish your shift and log out and within seconds you are doing whatever you want without trudging home or even leaving the building first. This also means that when overtime is offered-it's easy to accept. No trotting into work on your day off or late night journeys home-when you finish -that's it you actually only spend the extra time working-not travelling.
I qualify for bonuses. heavilly discounted company products and get free medical cover as well as the usual paid holiday.
Other aspects are just like other jobs-holiday you need to book well ahead of time and you're expected to be logged in and available for your hours punctually-no different to a "bricks and mortar" call centre.
The people I work with are probably as diverse if not more so than the usual call centre-some people are studying, running their own businesses, want to be home based for family reasons. One of the really nice things is that it's a very non-judgemental enviroment. You aren't judged by appearance because no-one can see you (unless you choose to-we have our own facebook community for example) and some of my collegues have disabilities but unless they choose to reveal that fact no-one knows. You are judged on what you are at work not other people's misconceptions. All sounds a bit worthy when put like that but it isn't. Our chatscreens are often full of banter and sometimes you have to stifle a giggle at some of the comments that pop up when you're on a call.
I've now been doing this job for a year -I like the customers (the odd angry one doesn't worry me-I like a challenge and regard it as a victory to end the call with them happier and their issues resolved) and although I would never have thought of myself as a technically minded person realise now that I'm actually a lot more capable technically than I ever would have thought possible.
I think CSAs working from hme has a huge future as companies come to appreciate the huge benefits both for themselves, their staff and their customers.
Four years on and I'm still in the same job -admittedly now employed by a different company but my contract was TUPE'd across-Pretty good for a supposedly "unstable" work at home job. Interestingly the client is now taking a greater interest in the work from home project and new departments are also possible from home - so very slowly the prospects for proper jobs at home are expanding.
I've worked in Customer Services for nearly 3 years now. I got critisised for leaving my old job as an assistant manager to coming to this job and "dumbing myself down" to work in this type of job, but I have to say I am better paid in my current job and the perks are better as well. So for a "dumb" job, it certainly does ok for me!
Although I use the term Customer Services in the place where I work there is Customer Service advisors, but I am actually a Technical Support advisor, but it is still the same idea. So I deal with problems and faults with Broadband and Television, which can be a tough job and not for everyone. So many people say they couldn't do my job, so do you have to be a certain type of person to do my job? I don't think so!
Customer Service has had the reputation of phoning Call Centre, maybe not getting through to someone in the UK, arguing with the person who's telling you you've not paid your bill and so on and the place I work has all of the above.
So what is my job? I am sitting on the end of the phone waiting on a call coming in to help the customer. I work 07.30-16.00 Tuesdays-Saturdays. I wouldn't say it is an easy job, and since I am dealing with Broadband and it could be 101 problems with the set up, exchange and so on you could be on the phone for an hour with the same person, and that can get a bit boring! At least 1 of our phone calls a day is recorded and we are constantly monitored on how our service is. Also we have to abide by ofcom regulations and a lot of customers get annoyed if we tell them we can't get into the account when they are not the account holder and there is no password on the account. Do they think we like saying this? No, but I would probably lose my job for breaking data Protection.
I myself don't really get bad tempered customers. I often get compliments saying how patient I am and how I am easy to understand. I do have a lot of patience and wouldn't mind being on the phone to someone for a couple of hours, as I don't get bored easily.
I think the main complaint is that customers may have to wait sometimes to get through to ourselves. We are well staffed and also employ outsorce companies to pick up calls when we get busier. So it's not just 10 people sitting here, there is hundreds and unfortunately we get busier at times, but then again we have nearly 9 million customers so even 0.5% of out customers phoning at the same time will cause a bit of a queue.
I like my work and I like the company, A little insite into my job
"Hello, my name is Laura, how may I help you?"
I don't think anyone really plans to end up in customer service. How many little boys and girls do you know who say "When I grow up I want to listen to people shout at me about their bills?" But it's an entry level job, one that you don't need too many qualifications for, and one that sometimes doesn't have such a lengthy interview process. That means that sometimes, whether you intended to or not, you might just find yourself applying to it because you need the money and it's the best thing available to you at that point.
So what do you need to know before taking the plunge into customer service? The main thing is to be able to keep your temper, not take things personally, and to be able to let things go once a call has finished. Most companies have an amount of calls per hour you're expected to take - I've worked in places with very simple billing queries we were allowed only 90 seconds for to places with more complex calls we were allowed 360 seconds per call to deal with (and if you've ever wondered why a customer service rep seems in a hurry to get you off the phone, now you know). The point is that that's a lot of calls per day. If you start holding on to slights and upsets from certain calls, you will burn out and you will break down. Let it go.
The good side of that is that as a customer service rep there are very few customers you will ever speak to more than once. You might schedule callbacks with one or two, but even this is discouraged in most companies - most of them prefer you to write notes on the account and ask the customer to call back. If you have a customer you hated... he's one of millions. You're never going to have to deal with him again. It's over now.
Many companies will expect you to do a certain amount of upselling when you work in customer service. This can be both a blessing and a curse. When the company is doing well, and offering genuinely good deals, customers will be eager to take what you offer and you might find that you earn quite a nice extra amount per month. Most companies even run competitions - I won quite a nice digital camera once through signing customers up to my company's free online service. However, when the offers aren't so good things get tough. You'll start wanting to promote things less because it's not benefitting the customers, the customers will be less happy about taking them and before long, there will be managers on your back asking you why you haven't met a certain percentage.
Training is usually provided by the company you're with and can be quite lengthy. For a simple role it may be only two weeks but a job involving more complex discussion of bills and issues usually has between 6-8 weeks training.
Pay for a customer service role can vary quite drastically by company, and depending on whether you're working through an agency. I would say you should expect your starting salary to be between £10-12000. That is however before commission. If you're working late hours as well, you may also find that your company pays you a bonus for this - this can be up to around £1000 per year.
Holidays and sick leave are something customer service positions can be very strict on, as they need to have enough staff covering the phones at all times. I've worked positions where three incidents of sickness - even with a doctor's note - in a rolling years would earn you a verbal warning, four would earn you a written warning and you would be fired on the fifth. Holidays, especially in large call centres, you must book early - you will often find that by Christmas of the year before all summer holidays for the next year have already gone.
You should expect in most customer service positions to work at least some Saturdays - one in two or one in three is a normal amount - and get a day of the week off to compensate. People often call about their bills on a weekend so things are busy then. It can be difficult to take Saturdays as holiday so this can make things difficult if there is a particular weekend you need free. There is often however the capacity to shiftswap if you desperately need a day off - that is, to arrange with a collegue to work his or her shift in return for them working yours. It is a good idea to cooperate with collegues when they desperately need a certain Saturday off - they WILL remember when it's your turn to need the same.
In a typical six hour shift on the phones you should expect to be allowed one fifteen minute break, one half hour lunch break and five minutes to go to the toilet. Yes, even the toilet break WILL be timed - the phones have the capacity to check when you are not logged in and taking calls. Other than that you are expected to be working every minute - you may get a gap between calls if lines are quiet but don't count on it. Some companies WILL expect you to work back extra minutes if they find you've been taking too long, so beware!
(As an additional note to this, I should add that when you have been working in a call centre a while the strict timetable can have the effect of making you institutionalised. On leaving, and getting another job elsewhere it feels very odd to be able to take a lunchbreak when its convenient to you, or get a cup of tea whenever you want.)
While customer service IS an entry level job, there is very often scope for progression within the company. Once you're in customer service, at the very least you're likely to be given the ability to work towards being a trainer or a manager. Often, larger companies now are signing up for the idea of lifelong learning, and you may be invited to take part in extra training courses. These may help you advance within the company, or just look good on your CV, but it is a good idea to ask about them and take them if you can.
Customer service certainly isn't a dream job, and I think I've given a quick outline here of what might be expected of you. However, if you're at the point where there is nothing else available to you... go for it. It is at least a desk job in the warm, the pay isn't too bad, and you do at least have the opportunity to work up. Dream job? No. But you could do a lot worse.
For the past four years i have been a Customer Service advisor/ assistant on the desk of a busy retail store. This is not the same type of customer service that the other reviews in this section refer to, but it is another career in the same vein as call centres: I deal with complaints, compliments and returns, and it is not the easiest job in the world, but i really enjoy it! (Yes I am sadistic!) I'm a student, but throughout my degree i've worked part-time in a very busy store. Because there are always large queues at the cash registers, the store needs a separate desk to deal with the returns of clothes, and any other problems the customers may have. The size of the store means that my queue never wanes, but when you're kept busy the day flies in. *** The Procedure *** Should a customer encounter a rude sales assistant, or be unhappy with their purchase, or even want to report problems with the store itself, they join my queue and tell me about it. Depending on the seriousness of the complaint I can usually deal with it. Generally this is acceptable to the customer, but if the customer is still unhappy, or getting abusive towards me, i have 2 "secret buttons" (very James Bond!) one contacts the security guard, and the other contacts the manager. Sounds simple enough? Usually it is... but there are a few stories to tell! *** Your Job as CS Advisor *** The customer Service operator, is usually the fall guy for the store when a customer has a complaint. Being the first in the line of fire from an irate customer is not the most pleasant thing in the world. Especially since angry customers usually come at you with an attitude, before you even try to help. ?I want my money back now!? instead of? ?I?m sorry there?s a problem with my purchase, and I?d like to get a refund? this usually rubs a sales assistant up the wrong way. If someone is going to be ru
de to me personally, I?d tend to try and find some reason to hold them up in the queue. Whereas, if a customer approaches me politely, I?ll try to do everything within my power to help them. I think that?s human nature. Politeness does not cost anything, and at the end of the day, I?m not standing there to be shouted at, I?m trying to help. The second most common scenario: Angry customer: ?I know my rights!? Usually when a customer says this to you, they have just been refused a refund for a specific reason. Unfortunately for them, our Customer Service Reps receive regular Consumer Rights training, and know all the ins and outs. I?ll give you two examples: One pair of suede shoes are plopped on my desk. Note that these suede shoes are now completely BALD! Woman: ?I want my money back- these shoes are faulty; I washed them, and now look at them? Lou: ?How exactly did you wash them madam?? Woman: ?I washed them at at 60 degree wash in my machine at home. Look at them.? Lou: (bewildered that someone would be daft enough to wash suede shoes in machine) ?I?m afraid these cannot be refunded, it is not the companies fault. These shoes are provided with cleaning instructions? Woman: (getting angry) I want to see the manager now. Stupid girl, I know my rights! (lou goes and finds manager, who refuses to refund shoes. Woman leaves threatening legal action. So far no letter receivedm and this was over a year ago!) *Second Example* We do not exchange underwear unless faulty. This is store policy, afterall, who?d want to wear briefs that have been returned? It is also within our rights to refuse. Bikinis prove a problem however, and so we have hygiene seals in the pants, stuck on very securely, so if a customer wants to return a bikini, the seal must be intact. One customer arrived at my desk, threw a bikini in front of me
: no hangar, no kimball tags and no hygiene seal and no receipt, and from the tone of her voice I knew she?d be a nightmare from the beginning. Woman: ?I demand a refund? Lou picks up bikini, ?Madam, there are no tags, no hygiene seal and no receipt. I cant give money back for this? Woman: ?I know my rights- it was unsuitable I am etitled to a refund? Lou: ?Actually madam, you are not. You have no proof of purchase, and the seal has been taken off. The signs clearly state that the seal is not to be removed on the bikinis? (After fifteen more minutes of argument, and a queue forming behind her, the manager comes to diffuse the situation. My manager is no pushover, and the lady left with her tail between her legs. I stifled a giggle: she even threatened to beat up the manager!?) *** Harder Aspects of CS *** I find the harder aspects of customer service are dealing with complaints about your colleagues. Sometimes complaints are made about a certain individual being unhelpful, when truthfully the person is probably run off their feet. It?s difficult to know what to do in those situations: report to a manager, or not. It?s also difficult when you refuse a customer something, on the grounds of your training, and then a manager comes along and undermines you, by saying yes to the same customer. *** Tips I?ve picked up *** * After a few years of dealing with people face to face, you can usually scan your queue, and pick out the people who are going to give you trouble. Usually their attitude is visible through their facial expression, so when you come to these people it?s best to make eye contact, and flash your biggest smile at them, before they launch into rage! Somehow greeting these customers with a smile seems to diffuse the situation a little before they begin. * Be careful of the language you chose, if you are rude this will give customers further reason to dislike you. And further
reason to complain. Also most people find it difficult to be rude to someone who is being polite to them. * Pass difficult cases on to supervisors or mangers. This way you don?t make yourself look rude or unhelpful to other customers who may be watching. * Be wary of the items people are bringing back. If there are no tags on the item, before you accept it back, be sure to check the pockets: If an item is worn it is not uncommon to find crumpled up tissues in the pockets! (this happens regularly with us!- and your boss won?t thank you for accepting used goods back!) * It also helps to remember regular customers names: they tend to like you more! * Learn where you stand on consumer rights, and make sure its correct. * And whatever you do, despite spending a full day in the firing line, and hearing complaint after complaint, leave it all behind you the minute you walk out of work. Otherwise your home life will suffer. *** As a Career? *** This isn?t the type of job I want as a career, but it is certainly an excellent job for learning people skills. My own confidence has soared since I began this job, and I am a lot better at dealing with people than I ever was before. It?s most certainly a people-person job!
As I work in a supermarket I have had to deal with many customers and their problems. So I thought I would write a review on how to get good customer service. 1. Speak to the right person; ask to speak to the department manager or the duty manager, its no good complaining to someone who can’t sort it out anyway and you’ll only end up explaining it more than once. 2. Remain calm, ranting and raving will get you nowhere, 3. It is also really frustrating trying to explain something to a customer, when they wont let you finish a sentence. Allow the staff to say what they want to say without interruption. Hear them out and then reply. 4. If you are returning something that is faulty do you have everything you need. The item, the receipt and are you in the right building. I’ve had people bringing things back that we don’t even sell, they were in the wrong supermarket, doing the usual ranting and raving. Having prepared what they were going to say they then have to leave with their tail between their legs, when you tell them we don’t even sell it. 5. Make sure you have your facts right. Have you read the sign/paperwork correctly you would not believe the amount of people that are proved wrong, Every day I get customers telling me that a sign says buy one get one free, I tell them it doesn’t. They rant about it and say, “I’ll show you” storming off into the store. I tootle along behind knowing full well that I’m right. And on arriving to the product I am proved right. Who looks stupid now, not me that’s for sure? (Not that I enjoy proving customers wrong but when they have been so rude) 6. Plan what you are going to say and clearly explain what your problem is and what you would like to be done about it. And remember what you want is not always possible, due to company policy, but that is not the staff’s fault they are following compa
ny procedure, they did not make it up. Head office did. If necessary speak to them. 7. With food, if you go direct to the manufacturer not just the supplier you can often get a better result. If you write to them telling them that you recently bought an item of theirs and it was not up to their usual standard, many companies send you vouchers which have a value way above the item itself. By returning it to the supermarket, it is usually just replaced and/or refunded. 8. When ringing a company, they all seem to have these automated systems. Press 1 for, press 2, for press 3 for, the list goes on and on. By the time you get to the end you cant remember which one most suited you and your quietly losing the will to live and think you never get to speak to a human being. The first question they usually ask is, if you have a touch-tone phone press # twice, don’t press it. They then think you don’t have one and transfer you to a human to help you. Much quicker 9. And finally when I have had a problem and I feel that it has been dealt with and resolved to my satisfaction I thank the people involved. If you leave the store on a good note you will be remembered for that. 10. So to sum up. Remain calm, be polite, be clear and your much more likely to get what you want. Hope some of this has been helpful I just though I would add some funny things that customers have done and said. I had a customer bring a knife back because they said it was too sharp and would be too dangerous to have in the house because they had young children. I had a lady yelling at me telling me that a product was on 2 for the price 3. I said, “I don’t think it is” trying to tell her she had it the wrong way round. But she wouldn’t let me finish. She then shouted for a few minutes until her husband told her to shut and told her what I was trying to. I’ve had a gentleman return s
ome 2ply toilet paper because it was faulty. You know when it ends up offset. He had unrolled a full packet and re-rolled them. I’ve had customers ask me which type of lightbulb they need or which size batteries will fit in their machine. And then are not happy when I cant tell them!! And finally a customer came to me to complain about the customer restaurant, which wasn’t my department, but he wanted to complain that he had just had a meal, which he said was excellent but that the meal did not look like the picture on the menu. The picture had showed four small potatoes and he had received 3 large ones.
No phone to hide behind. Not just an uninterested voice that appears after 5 menus asking you to push this number or that. No. Customer Services at a holiday centre is a different world. Face to face with the guest, how do you deal with them all; timid, arrogant, brash, downright rude.........every day of the week. 5 years of this particular area (Butlins in this case) has given me some interesting experiences. The Customer is always right. WRONG!!! An old adage perhaps but fatal if you adopt this attitude. The customer is never wrong! Slight difference. They may have been misinformed, misunderstood or misinterpreted something, but they are never wrong. Who are easiest to deal with. Well both ends of the spectrum actually. The timid you want to help as best you can and will often go out of your way to do so. The downright rude can be told that you will only deal with them if the act in a responsible manner and, if you let them rant and rave without interupting, just nodding etc, then they mainly run out of steam and don't know what to do next. The middle range of arrogant or even stupid complainers are very difficult. There's no come back on them for being rude and they're not going to back down. Just have to do your best. But at the end fo the day, they are all on holiday and want to be enjoying themselves, so as long as you can do something to aide this you've won. Tricks of the trade? Never interupt or try to sound like a know all. Take notes and say you understand although you may not agree with their points. Never try to be clever and make them feel silly for complaining. Smile when you greet them but don't overdo it. They'll think you're not taking them seriously. Be firm but not overpowering with your answer. Know you subject. You can't deal with a complaint if you have no idea of what they are talking about
. Scams?? When faced with a customer who insisted on seeing someone higher a colleague an I used to just swap guests, claiming to be the next person in the hierarchy. The answer was still the same but the guests went away assuming they'd put their point to the manager. As one of the other reviews states, the back office is a haven from all of the shouting and screaming. You can pull faces, laugh and scream and generally joke about the complainers until you go back through the door, straight faced again. Overall it was great fun.I only had 2 people in 5 years actually swear at me, and I swore back. Put them completely off their stride and they calmed down. And being a holiday centre we could all go out after work and get plastered and forget everything...........until the next day. Complaints with a hangover....now that's another story!!
Customer Services - don't you just love them? You sit on hold for 20 minutes then find yourself in another queue for a different department after the first person has told you that they can't help! The explanations are generally half-baked and useless and the solutions are usually below par. You think to yourself that it is not worth bothering after a while as you could just tell yourself that you can't be helped and to contact technical support/management/the supervisor/credit control or any of the other meaningless names for departments that are given out. I'd like to set the record straight and give you the viewpoint from the other side, the life of a Customer Services representative. Finding the job: ---------------- The easiest way to get into Customer Services is through an agency, there's lots around and it is the job that just about anybody with half an ounce of common sense can do. So, sign on with the agency of your choice (Brook Street, Addecco and Reid Employment all have specialised sections which deal with Customer Service as a job), hand over your lovingly prepared CV, take their typing tests and attend their introductory interview then await the call to be sent off for training at the Customer Services department of one of many companies that they have on their books. Not many agencies send you off for interviews at these places, as they are mainly jobs that you can walk into and be trained. They'll usually make the decision based on your CV and interview at the agency. Other than this, see a job in the paper or advertised somewhere, apply in writing, attend the interview and see how it goes from there. As I say, it's easy to get this type of job as a rule. The jobs are usually given on a temp to permenant basis, begin with the agency then go into the employment of the company. Once you've started: -------------------- I'll base
this on my own personal experience of working a summer job with one of the UK's leading Digital TV suppliers. I began with training, the interview and CV were all passed over to the Agency's client and I was given a start date just 2 days after signing on. The training began on a Wednesday and in a group of 10 people we began to get involved with the business in hand. The Digital service (I'm being very discreet today) billing, the range of options available to the subscriber, the problems involved with the Digiboxes and the ways to deal with the irate customers were all explained to us in great detail. On our first day we had a bit of an idea of the service but went through it in a lot of detail, lots to learn as we'd only seen the basics before on adverts etc. The services were all laid out for us and by the following Wednesday we were put onto the phones. The Job: -------- Once you get on a phone you are in a whole new world, the life of a Customer Services rep is not the happiest one to be living, by far and away the worst thing about it is THE CUSTOMERS! "BUT NO" I hear you cry, that's what you're there for, to listen patiently and be as helpful as you can. In a way you are right, the thing is that the members of the public (you tend to get a bit of a "them and us" outlook on life shortly after starting and it becomes a kind of daily skirmish). You need to be polite in the face of the most idiotic of complaints, you need to know your limitations - don't go giving out the wrong advice, you need to be constantly ready to take the next call and you need to be able to show initiative. It's one of those jobs that's easy to get into and to do, to do it well you need to be a bit dedicated and be able to think on your feet. The job is closely monitored, once you're out of the training stage you are expected to make the odd mistake with the complexities of the se
rvices you're supposed to know and the companies don't really jump on you too much. There is generally a supervisor around for on the spot help should you need it. The main thing is to remain calm and always act confident on the phone. You'll be using a headset in this line of work. The mouthpiece will be moveable for comfort and an earpiece/headphone so as you can hear the customer (well, no point in being there if you can't) The monitor will be in from of you and you'll be able to look into the accounts and personal details of the person you'r4e dealing with. Each company will have a similar database - usually using Microsoft Access, a very easy and reliable system to find your way around. If not based on Access than the details are always explained to you and you'll be able to offer help. An "Idle" button will be available for the times you need to go on a break or to the loo etc. and the boss usually closely watches your idle times. The problems arise when you are unable to help someone, this can create real problems as you are often not allowed to hang up on people (well, why would you?) unless they're being openly abusive to you, even then you need to warn them first. So, if you've got a call that is demanding to be transferred to Technical Support and you're not allowed to do it, you're stumped. You can end up sitting on the line with someone for 10 minutes trying to explain that Tech will not be take the call from you and that there's nothing you can do. So, a warning to the callers (you know who you are), believe that they can't help when they say so and ask for a supervisor straight away - they'll usually explain it better anyway and it'll be a relief to the call-handler. You are often not allowed to pass the call on to a supervisor until the caller demands it. As a Customer Service Adviser you are expected to be available all the time once you'
ve logged into the phone and your computer, you need to be able to put any bad calls out of your mind straight away as you'll be getting another call directly after the bad one and if you're still wound up you will not be able to deal with the caller in the correct way that the customer and the company expects from calling. The skill of being able to apologise and seem sincere is essential - get a call which begins "AAAaaaaaaaaaaah, I've finally got through after 20 minutes and now I'm going to give you HELL" will need all your diplomacy to keep an official complaint coming in about you. So, as a Call Handler you are expected to be polite, reasonable, helpful and always available. You should expect a lot of irritable customers and a lot of arguments to be quashed while trying to stay on the good side of your boss. It is a very thankless job and not one that should be entered into without a lot of thought as a career path. I did enjoy my time with the Digital TV Provider after a while, after the nerves settled down and I got to know my way around the system, it all boils down to being confident and relaxed on the phone. If you're going to call in to a Customer Service centre, do it in a nice way please, keep the aggressiveness to a minimum and don't take it out on the call handler - they've got enough pressure as it is! It's an easy job to get, not the easiest to keep. Think about it before you apply!
I would imagine that any business that has customers will have some sort of customer service area, whether or not they call it that. Since I work in retail related customer service though, that’s the area on which this is based. Anyway, a typical working day in the life of, well, me. 8.50 am : Arrival + Set up Arrive at work, sign in, dump my bags and then go up to my department. Open up the tills and check we have all the temporary cards we’ll need, for the next few hours at least. 9 am : Admin If it’s that time of the week, finding, updating and printing the contents of 7 or 8 documents. Making sure all the old ones are filed in the correct places. 9.30 am : Customers begin to arrive…. I don’t have any problems with the “advising customers of the services” part of the “customer services adviser” role – I will quite happily tell them where the toilets / restaurants / beds (for sale – not for a quick nap in the store) are, and assure them that we do offer free delivery / gift wrapping / item storage / stock ordering if they are in possession of one of those shiny gold plastic cards. The trouble I have is when I have to initiate the services I’ve just offered them. For example, the wrapping. While some customers will have everything down to their last pair of socks gift wrapped, the majority leave only the items they don’t think they themselves could manage. These fall into one (or sometimes both) of two categories – big and bulky. I’m hardly the tallest person in the world, and despite over a decade of training I’m yet to enter the realms of the super-strong, so these items can sometimes cause problems. Still, wrestling with rolls of paper (the gold gift wrap and the brown exterior stuff) can be quite interesting, and convincing one of the lads to carry it up to the stockroom to be sent out becau
se “being a girl I’m just too weak and feeble….” is always fun. 10.30 am : Break 15 minutes to sit down and flick through a holiday brochure so I can dream of being anywhere but here 10.45 am : Back to work More gift wrapping. Some account payments (customers can pay off their store cards in our department) and a few cash advances (also on store cards). Tactfully explain to one customer that the reason they cannot get cash (and won’t be able to buy any goods) on their card is because they owe nearly 3 grand and haven’t paid their bill for the last 6 months. 11.30 am : Complaints These come in all day long, so it’s quite remarkable that I’ve got to 11.30 and not had any so far. Currently I’m being told that the carrots in the restaurant are too hard all the time (well good for the carrots, I say) and a staff member down on mens didn’t smile at a customer. Digging out our complaints file I sit down with the customers and get the details down so I can deal with them later. Right now a queue’s forming….. 12.30pm : Lunch An hour off but, since there’s no rest for the wicked, I only have time to grab a snack before popping out to do as good a job of Christmas shopping as I possibly can considering the shops in Market Street…. 1.30 pm : Queries Not complaints as such, but questions to which I don’t know the answers. I’m paging and tannoying the relevant managers, but either they’re on lunch or they’re dealing with other customers because they aren’t getting back to me. The customers are growing madder and madder…. 2.30 pm : Interviewees Although technically for customers, we sometimes act as an intermediary between visitors and personnel. Today we’re interviewing for Christmas temps, so after signing in the newbi
es I need to have a quick ring down to our HRM dept to find out who should be showing up to collect them. 3 pm : Momentary Lapse in Customers It’s been non-stop - being the run up to Christmas it’s one of our busiest times and things can get quite hectic. Luckily we still find time to play and one of my colleagues (who, being a level higher and a good 30 years older than me, should have known better) decides to show me the joys of tap dancing on bubble wrap. Must confess, it makes an excellent noise….. 3.30 pm : Return of the Customers But luckily it’s one of our regulars (and my favourites) who has brought us some chocolate to say thanks for all the “good service”. Awww. Time to retreat to the back office and scoff some. 4 pm : Another Complaint A customer wants to return an item. We don’t deal with returns normally, but she’s been sent up from the shop floor because (a) she has no receipt or proof of purchase (b) she bought the item in 1999 – slightly outside our 28 day refund period then…. She’s not happy with my answer and wants to speak to someone “higher up that you missy” so call the deputy store manager to sort it out. She comes and says exactly what I said, and the customer storms out threatening to go to the MEN about it. Never mind – they’re hardly likely to run a piece on it and even if they do, what’s the saying “no publicity is bad publicity?” 4.45 pm : Admin + Adding We have to do the figures for our whole store, collect them with those of the other stores in the region and report them to head office on a daily basis. Today this involves some “why haven’t you rung us yet?” phone calls to a couple of branches before we’re sorted. Then it’s time to ring the Store Manager and let him know what we’v
e achieved today. Time to put on my most polite voice, me thinks…. 5 pm : Re-Stocking + Repeating (over and over again) With an hour and a half to go before we close, and enough staff on the counter already, I start to make up some gift wrapping boxes ready for the morning. Get called away to serve as two of the others are dragged off the department, and have to tell one customer that although we are happy to take an item for alteration for her, it will take 4 or 5 days since we contract them out, and not the 30 minutes she wants. Try to convince her that there’s a good reason we don’t do them ourselves – after all it wasn’t all that long ago that I was getting Ds in needlework at school. 5.30 pm : Tailor’s visit The tailor brings back the items she’s been working on, and I get to spend the next 30 minutes on the phone : “Mrs X ? Hello, It’s Zoë from customer services here. Just to let you know that the item you were having altered has been returned to us, and is ready for you to collect from our 3rd floor office next time you’re in the store. Thank you. Good Bye.” “Mrs Y? Hello, it’s Zoë from customer services here……” You get the picture. 6.15 pm : Criminal Activity Two incidents within 10 minutes of each other – one customer goes berserk when we won’t discuss her husband’s account with her (“But madam, what if he had a mistress he was buying things for and didn’t want you to know about?” I really want to say, but don’t) and a second who has a card that is coming up reported stolen. He cannot pass any of the mandatory security checks we always have to do, but since he starts kicking off a little call to loss prevention is required. 6.30 pm : Closing Time The shop is closed, but it’s not quite time to
go yet – first we need to count all the money in the till down to the last penny, print off some reports and make a little trip to the cash office. After dropping off the visitors book downstairs, I’m free to go. Well, until tomorrow. Finally, back to the title. It’s true, but not in a “because we’re all so goddamn gorgeous way”. I remember watching a documentary about little kids in pageants in America quite a few years back, and at one point the mother of the eventual winner explained that although she always appeared to be smiling, the only way she managed this was to pull strange faces for the couple of seconds her back was turned during spins to rest her mouth muscles. At work we have basically a counter, a back working area and an office. To deal with most customer requests I have to turn round and go to the phone or the computer or the gift wrapping area and it’s at this point that I get to pull “aren’t customers thick?” faces, pantomime breaking necks and generally let of steam to prepare myself for some more stupid questions from stupid customers in the near future. That may sound negative, but I do enjoy my job. I couldn’t do it for life (although I respect anyone who can) but as a part time uni job it’s great. Customer service will of course vary from industry to industry, and within those, from organisation to organisation, but these are the types of things I do every shift. Have to finish now – it’s time for work….