Thursday, April 16, 2009

No, You're Not Special

One of the most frustrating parts of my job is dealing with people who feel they should be an exception to the rules. Or worse, assume the rules were put in place specifically to inconvenience them and them alone. The first become indigent when you say "no" and the second often become zealous and demand to be treated special.

I am very well aware of the fact that the business of government has the potential to be annoying and tiresome. There's red tape on the red tape, so to speak. Things don't happen as quickly or smoothly as it seems they should, and there are often a lot of forms and paperwork to filled out for what otherwise might be a simple task. Believe me, I know - I often have to deal with some of those forms and I have plenty of paperwork to complete myself. Unfortunately, much of this red tape is necessary to help ensure a level playing field. In many ways, a lot of what we do in government is about trying our damnedest to make sure that things are as much the same from one case to the next. Yes, things change over time and details will vary, but the idea is make is so each person has as equal a chance as possible. That's why there are so many rules and regulations.

But there are people out there who simple can't or won't try to understand this fact. They want what they want and they want it now! And damnit, it's your job as a public servant to make sure that it happens right away! I often want to look at these people and say, quite calmly, "I'm sorry you fucked up and didn't start this process sooner, but it's not my fault you have the all personality and ability for rational thought of a crack-adled chihuahua on PCP." I will do what I can, but this job is one of those where the old adage it true: a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.

Naturally, these people aren't just this way with those of us who work in government. They have this same additude in any situation where someone else is doing something for them. Cashiers, folks in retail, wait-staff, doesn't matter. Basically, if the job includes the words "customer" and "service" in any form, these people will pull this crap. I've seen (and experienced) it time and again. It's like these people replace the work "service" with "slave." You are to be at their beck and call, to give them anything they want right away, without question. And heaven help you if you happen to be in their line of sight when a mistake happens.

Personally, I think it should be manditory for everyone to have a customer service job at some point relatively early on in their lives. And I don't mean a job at some upscale, posh place where staff are expected to act superior to everyone around them (you know the places and people I'm talking about). No, I mean a job at someplace like a convenience store, a regular restaraunt (greasy-spoon would be best), a big-box store (but probably not a computer one, too much of a culture where staff are supposed to be supieror to the customers), or some kind of enterianment venue - movie theater, amusement park, etc.

Believe me, after a few months working in one of these jobs, you'll gain a whole new appreciation for what "customer service" really means.

1 comment:

Jack Cayless said...

I know exactly what you mean on the retail front mate. Working a day job in a hospital shop means I get the broadest range of customers, not just a niche market. And after working there for over a year you can almost narrow it down and accurately guess who's going to be rude and who's got manners. Fortunately I have the luxury of working alone, meaning I get to treat customers any way that seems fit. I like to think of it as a learning experience in my shop; if someone pays for chewing gums with a £20 note, they get their change in the most inconvinient amount of coins possible. Also, having shouting matches with customers is a great way to relieve stress and I heartily recommend it, but I guess that aint appropriate for a government job, huh?