by Elle Cyre
Many thoughts on how writing has influenced my life.
|Life is all about perspective.
I was in the middle of venting about work, a weekly or daily occurrence, when a friend of mine said 'you should write a blog about your experiences.'
Well, who wants to read about my daily struggles? I work as a manager in a fast-food restaurant, a very, very unglamorous occupation and a bit embarrassing on top of it.
But, what the heck! Here goes:
I don't think I have to describe in detail what I deal with day in and day out..If you have eaten at a popular fast-food chain, you can picture the work environment: busy, noisy, messy and sometimes a tad chaotic. There are screaming children, dropped drinks, long lines, napkins and straws scattered around, not to mention the mess in the bathrooms--and that is just in the dining area. Behind the counter is a whole different story. When the going gets rough, (short-staffed, people out sick or didn't show, equipment issues, etc.) that's usually when mistakes happen.
No doubt you have a personal experience to draw from in this category, i.e. they put onions on your sandwich when you wanted it no onion; or pickles, or cheese, or not enough onions or mayonnaise or lettuce or whatever. I've seen it all and everyone has every right to complain if something isn't what they wanted or expected.
Nine times out of ten, the issue is resolved and you move on. But sometimes you get that one customer who throws an absolute fit. Usually it is about something minor, too, like only one pickle on their sandwich. They go berserk; they cuss you up and down and everyone who works there and everyone who has ever worked there; sometimes they even throw things at you.
Okay, so this is where perspective comes in. What sort of bad day are they having? What underlining stress are they dealing with so that this silly thing makes them fly off the handle? Maybe they are going through a breakup. Maybe they spilled their coffee in the car this morning and ruined their new suit. Maybe they have just endured a three-hour car ride with three kids under the age of 5 who won't stop screaming and crying and clinging on Mom. Maybe this is the hundredth time something like this has happened, and although they stayed silent the first 99 times, this last one is too much for them today. It's the final straw that breaks the camel's back. After all, there may be a million reasons why they are upset and the one they complain about is probably the least important.
Remembering that customers are people is the foundation of the customer service industry.
Now flip the script: customer service workers are people too. We make mistakes. We try very hard not to make them and we never, ever mess something up on purpose. But do those irritated customers think of that when they unleash their pent-up frustration on us? Of course not. They act like we never get any order right. One little mistake, one tiny detail overlooked, and we are the worst people on the face of the earth.
Is that fair? Should a missing condiment merit a shower of personal abuse? How would you like it if someone called your friends a bunch of idiots or monkeys? But no matter how appropriate their reaction is to the mistake, we have to stand there and endure it, because they are right; we messed up. (Actually, the irony is 99% of the time, the manager had nothing to do with the mistake, but they're the ones who must shoulder the blame.) So we take one for the team; we apologize and listen to the million-and-one reasons why we're doing such a bad job and what a sorry excuse for a manager we are. We absorb most of it. We don't pass the blame onto anyone else or point fingers, least of all at the poor kid who might have messed up. We move on and try to do better next time.
The customer service industry is a sort of doormat of society. We bear the brunt of most people's bad moods. They don't have to make eye contact or say thank you if they don't want to; most of them are either on their way to or from work, their minds are elsewhere, and they don't even acknowledge our existence. I understand where they are coming from but no one wants to consider what we deal with every day.
I just wish people could try to see it from our perspective.