According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2,784,500 people work a customer service job. It covers a wide variety of positions, from a cashier at a gas station or grocery store, to a support phone line for businesses.
In general, a customer service job involves dealing with people constantly, either helping them out in person or over the phone.
It can be a taxing job depending on where you go, since people aren’t always the friendliest or the most understanding.
However, it’s something I think everyone should have some form of experience in.
I’ve worked at Speedway for about two and a half years, and it’s a job that has molded me into the person I am. It’s provided me with plenty of life lessons and made me grateful for what I have.
Some of the biggest ones were learning how to communicate with people, even when they weren’t getting it.
There’s been many occasions where I’ve had to take charge and diffuse a situation between an angry customer and a newer coworker. I’ve had to explain to irate people why I couldn’t just let them fill up their car and pay for it afterwards (I can only think of the struggles poor gas station workers in Oregon have to deal with now).
These scenarios caused me to think on my feet and helped me hone my communication skills. I had to be fast and thorough in explaining things to people, and be ready for follow up questions afterward.
In essence, I had to convince people who knew they were right that they were actually wrong, without causing them to leave the station in a huff. It’s a valuable skill to have, and prepares you for dealing with these kind of people in other jobs.
Another benefit is seeing people from all walks of life, as observing their struggles and attitudes can help you gain perspective.
I’ve seen the best people perform the most kind-hearted actions, and seen some truly mean and ungrateful people act like they own the world.
There have been many a kind samaritan who paid for a family’s bill when they were five or six dollars shy of the cost. A person once drove another customer to a friend’s house after they had been left at the store by their angry spouse.
Even little actions such as a customer helping me make coffee when we have a line to the bathroom goes a long way.
On the other side, people can really make jerks of themselves. There are the kinds of customers who steal and damage our property just to spite us when they don’t get their way.
Then there are the ones who scream in your face, ask to talk to the manager (who will just repeat what you said) and tell you multiple times how this will be what costs you your job.
The final example is the rare customer that decides to decorate the bathroom with their own feces in some sort of protest. Demonstrations like this really show the uglier side of people.
However it’s not always that simple, sometimes people are having a bad day and just lash out and cope in the wrong way. Sometimes they might have a mental issue. Regardless you have to be professional. It’s a good skill to have, as in the “real world” you’ll have to deal with those situations constantly.
While there are many personal benefits to working a customer service job, another one can potentially be the friendships you make.
Dealing with entitled people can really help strengthen the bond between coworkers, and can lead to a feeling of mutual respect and understanding that other jobs can’t match.
With such a wide variety of people working these jobs, you can be friends with people of all ages and backgrounds. One of my best friends in the world came from Speedway.
Customer service is not a glamorous job. You’ve got to deal with a lot of problems, both people and company related, yet the benefits it can give you makes it worthwhile in the end.
Gaining new perspectives, communication skills and friends sets you up for life past the checkout lane. And who knows, you can have a plethora of really good stories to tell from the experience.