An Open Letter to All Customers, Consumers, Members, Patrons, etc.

If you can’t tell after reading this post that I work in customer service…maybe you should read the post again.

Pardon my language, but: if you are receiving a service at an institution, where someone is helping you (i.e., at a grocery store, department store, bank)–the moment it’s your turn, get your ass off the phone and greet them. If your call is that important either finish it first or call the person back.

And when whoever’s helping you says “Thanks” or “Have a great day!”, respond to them. They are there to help you, but they’re people, not objects. They have to put up with shit from people every day: rude people, people who just want exceptions made for them, people who yell even though the customer service rep has politely but firmly (and truthfully) told them that nothing can be done for them. (The people on the
front lines of customer service helping you really usually have the least power of everyone in the system. You think the person who scans your grocery items has control over everything? Think again.)

So you can make their day better by being polite and even just saying hello. Making them feel appreciated. Letting them know that you see them as a person, not just a machine or an object there to do your bidding.

Photo by stockimages courtesy

Photo by stockimages courtesy

Now, I’m not saying that every day is a shitty day, nor that customer service reps never make mistakes or are never rude. Just that they have a tough job, one that gets increasingly tough in today’s society. In a world where everyone eels entitled to anything they want, customer service workers have to put aside their own feelings and focus on others. Don’t feel like smiling at the woman buying a few shirts who let her kids run wild, disturbing other customers and messing up the clothes? Wanna yell at her? Too bad. Pissed off at the guy who yells at you for asking for his ID since you’ve never seen him before? Tough toenails.

Or that customer who orders a special dish but modifies it into another dish–that’s already on the menu? Still gotta smile. And then of course those people who don’t bother looking at the menu and ask, “Do you have such-and-such?”

“But that’s what they’re there for!” you protest. “To do whatever I want!”

Uh, no, they’re not. They’re there to provide the services offered by the institution for which they work, whatever that reasonably involves.

So yeah, customer service reps are there to serve. But not to cater to your every whim.

“But they’re putting others before themselves! Isn’t that good?”

Duh. But the same goes for everyone. We’re not divided into the elite and the customer service reps. The fact that they’re there to serve doesn’t give you the right to abuse them or the service they give you.

As a human being, you, too, are required to put others before yourself and be polite. Your cashier, your bank teller, your waiter, knows that everyone has bad days. They sympathize with you and try to give you the benefit of the doubt. Do the same for them.

Treat them well first and foremost because they’re human beings. Treat them especially well because of what they have to put up with.


  1. medievalotaku · November 22, 2014

    I work in a customer service oriented department too. It’s hard, but one must be patient with the customers. Whenever I start getting angry with a customer, I just remember how patient God has been with me and try to imitate that. It is more gratifying to see customers marveling at my patience than to find some way of expressing my indignation.

    But, we’re only human. I sometimes wonder Thomas a Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ is the best manual for someone who works in customer service considering all the trying customers we get!

    • Nami · November 22, 2014

      Yep! That’s pretty much what I try to do too–if God loves me, how important it is that I try to at least put up with everyone else. I try to remember, we’re all only human, and we all have bad days, all have our struggles. I don’t think I’ve lost my cool with anyone yet, by the grace of God.

      Probably is! I started that….I need to grab it off my shelf and start reading it again ^_^

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