Let's do This, Reflection

What I Have Learnt From Working in Customer Service

When I was in university, I studied Fashion Journalism. Due to this, several of the jobs that I had during my time in uni were industry related (and unpaid, urgh!). These included working as a social media planner for a photographer, various projects related to the X Factor and a style writer for the national newspaper online.

When I finished my degree, I made the decision to stop working in this underpaid industry, but as I wanted to stay in London after my studies, I needed to get a job that paid, even if it did not provide me with the experience I would need, to get paid, in the industry I wanted to be in. It was time to rethink.

I knew I did not want to work in fashion, but I was desperately looking for a way into another sector of the creative industry. As I was doing this, which I am still trying to figure out, I took a simple job in admin. Actually, I took a few jobs in admin over the years following graduation, to pay some bills and sort my proverbial s*£% out.

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After almost two years of mindbogglingly dull work in the 9-5 routine, I needed a change. I took a job in a customer service role because it allowed me the flexible hours and shifts I needed to still do my creative thang, whilst earning a living. Since my first CS job came to an end, I have since secured another role which started at the beginning of September. A similar style role, for a travel company, I am a little more optimistic about this new opportunity in terms discounts progression.

With that in mind, I got to thinking about what you learn from being a customer service advisor. I know, this list could be pretty endless, but here are some of the main things for me. Just to clarify, my role was not customer facing, and dealt primarily with “people”, if you can call some of them that, over the phone and via email.

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  1. You always have a choice. If someone is vile to you, then it is human nature to not want to bend over backwards for them, and that’s okay. Fair enough, we are not able to shout back at them which is a jolly old shame sometimes, but if someone is polite on the phone to us despite their rage, we are 1000% more likely to see what we can do for you. Manners go a long way. 
  2. Always apologise. If someone has an issue, apologise for it, no matter who is at fault. You are not (usually) personally responsible for whatever is in their wrath and many times, people just want to hear someone say sorry. It is surprising the effect this one word can have on people; say you are sorry to hear their story. 
  3. Personal touches go down well. They really do. Making people feel like they are getting special treatment and using their names can really help – but do be careful which titles you use. Some people (often the worst kind of customer) will want to be called by their title, be it Doctor or Reverend or whatever else. Most people Mr/Ms Smith works well, and then you get some people who insist you call them by their first names; ‘Hi Johnny’…which always feels really weird for me, especially if I am speaking to them for the first time. 
  4. Be nice to agents or suppliers. It can be easy to lose it with them especially if you get constant complaints about one of their products, but you have to remember the person you will be speaking with, just like yourself, will not personally be responsible for the issues. You can’t turn against your service colleagues, that is exactly what the customers want! 
  5. Be ruthless. Usually, if you keep on at it long enough, you will get what you want. As a customer, if something goes wrong for us agents, we are the best/worst sort of customer to have because we know what processes companies follow and how to wrangle our own way.

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On a personal level, my patience with people sky rocketed, as did my ability to listen to the most ridiculous scenario and not burst into laughter. You also develop a perfect phone voice that would be worthy of reading out the information at a large train station.

Whilst I don’t enjoy the negativity and abuse that can come with the role, you do learn to take it on the chin and brush it off. I do find jobs and colleagues in customer service, from my own experiences, a lot more interesting than in administration.

Have you ever worked in customer service? Could you? Would you? Why? Let me know in the comments below.

26 thoughts on “What I Have Learnt From Working in Customer Service”

  1. I’ve worked in a couple customer service roles and I absolutely wouldn’t do it again. One of my old housemates in London had worked in ASDA for 6 years or so and somehow got away with being snappy and telling off customers (they deserved it honestly!) but I couldn’t do it. Also the title thing doesn’t work for me as I don’t identify with a binary gender and wouldn’t want to be called sir/madam or mr/ms as it makes me super uncomfortable! Another point of view for you when people ask you to use their name instead! 🙂

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    1. I can’t say I blame you, at all, they are terrible! Neither of my CS jobs have been customer facing (thankfully, as I would be too anxious) but over the phone I can always fake a bad line and end the call! (Not that I ever do that, hehe) I always feel so awkward using titles for people! In my new job, we have to call people by their first name (as policy) unless they specify otherwise which I think works really well and avoids being awkward! Thank you so much for reading x

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  2. As a tutor I work in customer service 9 to 5 everyday. My compliments or abuse is face to face rather than down a wire and its more difficult to disguise your feelings face to face when someone is bending your ear.
    …….and its easier to hang up than to punch someone on the nose!

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  3. I started my career in customer svc and eventually went to management and then sales for the earning potential. You learn so much about navigating people and problems. I so love to help people and they are the best and worst part of the job. Good luck as your career continues to develop!

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and for reading my post. I don’t want to progress in this area, I want to write, but it pays some bills whilst I work on my side hustle! I much prefer it to something like admin because of the people element too I guess 😀 x

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  4. Love your tips for being respectful, polite and ruthless. More so then that, though, I love that you point out we have a choice. Customer service is often grossly abused and deal with the most weird requests. When I call Customer Service, the most basic kinds of human decency always apply. We are all people. 🙂

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    1. We are really all only human at the end of the day. I think I also forgot to mention not to take anything personally as some of the things we get screamed could often be really hurtful! It’s good to be polite and and the end of the day we were all new once too to patience is good! Thank you so much for reading my post and dropping a comment 😀 x

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  5. Work in the customer service industry? Do I ever!! I work for an airline, front lines -airport! I really liked your tips, and I will repeat the phrase ‘jolly ol’ shame’ several times a day to myself when feeling beat up on, frustrated and under appreciated… Another tip I find that works well is “I would feel the same way” for some reason this phrase really works! Good luck in your industry and thank you for writing such an informative post!

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    1. Thank you so much for reading my post, I am glad you liked it! I work (from last week) in the travel industry too! I am anxious to start dealing with the stuff people actually complain about. I always try to ask myself if I’d feel the same way but I don’t often get worked up so often end up thinking *man this person needs to calm down and STFU* 🤣 x

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  6. I’ve always worked in CS roles, first face-to-face in retail, and now by email and phone in sales and logistics. I always try to put myself in the customer’s shoes and think of the times I’ve had poor customer service, so I know what I wouldn’t like to hear if it was me. These are some great tips and I hope your new job goes well. 😊

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting ♥ I’m really not one to ‘complain’ about stuff but after this job and seeing the minuscule stuff people moan about it really makes me think I should speak up more when I experience a bad service 😂 I am so not empathetic like 9 times out of 10 – I just really hate people most of the time and try to hide it the best I can *does my best CS voice* lol x

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    1. Thank you for reading Kayleigh 🙂 If someone treats you horribly you should never feel obliged to treat them a certain way. Fair enough, kill them with kindness but that isn’t always enough! I do like a personal touch as well! X

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  7. I did a bit of face to face customer service straight out of uni back in the day and I found it a struggle dealing with the public. Phone and email is definitely easier because the barrier allows you not to take things as personally when on the occasion when people do become rude or irate. Some sound advice here. Wish I’d had it back then!

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    1. I’m glad you found my post useful! I can’t imagine doing it face to face, I would be so anxious! The phones are bad enough becuase you never know what the call is going to be or how angry someone will be but you are 100% right, the barrier is ok. Fingers crossed when I get on the phones in my new job it all goes okay! X

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  8. My best tip would be to say nothing…..eventually after they’ve got everything off their chest they run out of gas…..then be nice to them…..totally freaks them out as they were pent up looking for a fight…..And you didn’t give them any more to argue about
    Course if u want to entertain the office put them on speaker and get on with other tasks til they are ready to chat properly😋😋😋😋

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    1. Killing them with kindness! That is how I took to operating in the last week’s of my old job. I want to take this into my new role too! Omg putting them on speaker would be hilarious. Usually it’s funny enough when my colleagues heard only my side of the conversation; a la plastic plants! X

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    1. Oh wow, I think I’ll keep on with customers! Parents do not sound fun when angry… I’m glad you found my tips useful. It’s always best to just kill em all with kindness if all else fails us! X

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