How to be a Good Customer

I’ve mentioned the lack of good customer service in this part of the world a few times on this blog. So, I thought it would be fair to discuss the lack of good customers for a change. 

I don’t know which came first – whether businesses just started cutting back salaries and hiring fewer people and less qualified people and/or providing them with less training in order to save money; or, whether customers became so rude, demanding, careless, ignorant and impossible to please that no one with any other option and/or lick of sense wanted to work in customer service anymore.

Whichever way it happened (probably a little of both), customers, and the businesses they patronize, are now almost operating as adversaries rather than as a team. Any transaction has to work out better if both parties are able to come out of the experience having gotten what they want with a minimum of bloodshed, right?

By now we’ve all heard more than enough about Steven Slater  and his dramatic resignation from JetBlue Airlines. To me, the most interesting/frightening thing about this story is how many people in the airline industry (and customer service industry in general) are applauding him as a hero.

He “did what everyone always wanted to do but never did,” says the “Free Steven Slater” Facebook page – one of his many overnight shrines.

And really, I think if you accidentally hit a flight attendant, or anyone else, in the head with your luggage, you should apologize profusely.

Other airplane etiquette would include:

  • Not ringing that damn bell the second you find your seat while other passengers are still boarding and the flight crew is busy helping people to their seats;
  • Not wandering around the aisles, especially while the flight attendants are trying to squeeze their little food carts down the same aisle;
  • Not spending the majority of the flight taking things from or putting things back into your overhead compartment;
  • Not getting drunk and obnoxious; and,
  • Not yelling for, or at, the flight attendants.

As I mentioned a while back, XUP Jr. is working this summer as a hostess in a local restaurant. Up until a couple of weeks ago she really enjoyed her job. Then one evening she was clearing a table where four “large ladies” had been dining. (Large ladies may not have been the exact term she used).

She dropped a plate from the stack she was carrying and the large ladies started laughing uproariously and calling her a “stupid bitch” and saying things like: “I can’t wait to see how she’s going to pick up the broken plate while she’s trying to hold all that other stuff.” And, “what’s wrong with this restaurant that they hire skinny twits that can’t even carry a plate”. And, “Come on, stupid, clean up this fucking mess.”

They so shocked and surprised XUP Jr. that she lost all her aplomb and ran crying to the washroom. One of the servers cleaned up the plate and went to tell the manager about the large ladies, but by the time he got out there, they were gone. The manager was very nice to XUP Jr. and told her to come straight to him if anyone ever talks to her like that again.

I’m thinking most people in the customer service industry have run into many, many large ladies during the course of their work life. On top of this, many people in the customer service industry do not have kind, understanding managers like XUP Jr.’s So, I can see why store clerks and restaurant servers and call centre employees might not always be chirping sunshine.

However, maybe there is still time to turn all this around and make shopping somewhat pleasant for everyone again? To that end, I’m starting a list of ways to be a better customer. If everyone adds something, I reckon we’ll soon have a comprehensive handbook and people will find it and use it and distribute it all over the world and then everyone will be happy and peace will rein throughout the universe and there will be no more poverty, famine, natural disasters or right-wing crazy people. 

  1. Be polite and respectful. This should go without saying, but apparently cannot go without saying.
  2. Do your research. Find out something about the product you are looking to buy so you are somewhat knowledgeable and don’t walk into the store saying “I want a computer” and when the tech-geek asks you what sort of thing you’re looking for, you won’t get mad and sarcastically say, “I don’t know, you’re the ‘expert.’”
  3. Know the store. The internet is full of information so you can become familiar with pretty much every store and restaurant before you enter the premises. Some websites will even tell you if the have certain products in stock in that particular location. This will save you getting pissed off at The Beefy Steak House for not having a wide vegetarian selection.
  4. Go shopping in the morning. People tend to be a little less short-tempered when they haven’t already dealt with 180 dolts and/or haven’t been on their feet all day.
  5. Listen to the store guy/gal when he/she tries to explain stuff to you so you don’t keep asking him/her the same damn questions over and over. And try to answer his/her questions as fully as possible so he/she can actually help you.
  6. Don’t mess up the store.
    • Don’t carrying stuff around the store and then put it back in another section because you decide you don’t want it anymore.
    • Don’t knock stuff off shelves or hangers and leave it because “they should stack things better” or because “it will give them something to do”.
    • Don’t leave your cart in the check-out line or cluttering up an aisle somewhere.
    • Don’t open packages or unwrap stuff and then leave them lying around.
  7. Don’t hold other customers up when you’re at the check-out or with a floor clerk or at customer service. Do your business and move on.
    • Don’t start engaging the clerks in long conversations about past shopping experiences.
    • Don’t complain to the cashier about all the stuff you couldn’t find or how nothing fit or how expensive everything is.
    • Don’t be surprised that there’s sales tax on stuff so you don’t have to spend a lot of time arguing about the final cost with the cashier and/or have to put stuff back because you can’t afford everything anymore.
    • You know you’re going to have to pay at the check-out so don’t start wondering where your wallet is after everything has been rung up.
  8. Keep your freakin’ kids under control. I had a youngster once, too, so I know how excited/impatient/bored they get while shopping. So, either don’t bring them, or if you have to bring them, keep them with you and try to keep them from screeching in that high-pitched wail only young children can do. And don’t let them run around playing tag or hide-and-seek or testing the tensile strength of all the toys, garments, household appliances and food packaging.

What else?????