Why I think everyone should work in Retail/Customer Service at least once in their lives

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Inspired by this photo, I thought I would write a little blog about why I think that people should work in retail, or a difficult customer service job at least once in their life. I think that a lot of British consumers take a lot of granted and although I loved meeting new customers and making people happy everyday I was faced with some people who came in to speak to staff like s**t knowing they could pick a fight and not get any aggro back. Although this is a soul crushing part of the job it is in fact what shapes you as a person and young professional.

To go over some of my experiences;

I have been shouted at, sworn at, spat at, insulted, had things thrown at me and told I am stupid and that’s why I should stay working in a shop, I have cleaned up puke and wee. Been told that they feel sorry for “people like me” (whatever that meant).

I have worked with customers who are old , young, disabled, drunk, high – and more. I have met the challenges head on and yeah, there have definitely been some tears but I have come out on top (or feel as though I have).

In many industries resources are tight and more and more employees are having to hit the ground running, train on the job and have to battle through each day feeling pulled in all directions. But here’s why I think everyone should have to work in retail/customer service at least for a while on their road to success, whether they want to be a head honcho of a company or someone behind the scenes doing the little things that make it all tick over.

1. The people (staff and customers); Yes you come across some absolute idiots anywhere you work but the team you work with will always pull through and back one another up. Some of the best people I have met have been my retail colleagues and even if we don’t always still keep in touch I have big respect for them! They may not be wiping bums or cleaning toilets (OK so some of them have come close to bum wiping and have cleaned toilets) but they have big hearts as well as drive and determination.

2. Retail can make you or break you; it tests your limits and makes you see that what you thought was impossible is actually possible. There will be days where you have a cheeky sob in the stock room but there is always tomorrow.

3. It makes you ambitious even if you hate it; it lets you realise what you do and do not want in a job. It can help you see that the only way is up and out.

4. Some customers are just down right rude! If they had to be in your shoes, on your feet all day selling things you have little or no interest in they probably wouldn’t last as long. I often thought that if each nasty customer had to deal with what I dealt with, they would never treat a member of staff badly again. It promotes humility and respect for your fellow human.

5. People push their luck in customer service situations so you learn their trick and know how you can weedle your own way. It helps you become more confident if you aren’t happy with the service someone is giving you (“What do you mean it won’t be delivered today?! I paid for next day delivery! I expect to be compensated!”) This is not to say having worked in customer service gives you the right to be nasty to staff in return. NOT COOL!

6. It sorts the men from the boys (or the girls from the ladies), you can have someone who thinks they are the bees knees in school – straight A’s! But it helps you see that not all intelligence is about grades! It shows you the value of common sense.

I suppose points 4 and 5 are the ones I feel most passionate about. I think retail/customer service really cuts people down to size. And although I know what I am writing here won’t illuminate the idiots of the world who just want to go and upset someone I still think people should take it on board. Everyone has bad days, the difference between us is the way we deal with it. And there is never an excuse for taking stuff out on staff be that in a shop, restaurant, airplane – whatever!

Please tell me if I’m wrong, as always I’d love to know your comments

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Author: eemaa27

Blogging and reflecting to keep my writing skills in tune

5 thoughts on “Why I think everyone should work in Retail/Customer Service at least once in their lives”

  1. Interesting and I completely agree with the general idea… but I feel ‘retail’ is perhaps too narrow. Customer services perhaps appropriate? Having worked in a customer service environment, I have experienced all the above that you discuss including being swung for and sworn at. Not criticism at the blog, merely asking to extend it…?

    1. Agreed 🙂 and when I have been sharing it I have been writing /customer service. Have rectified the title for you 🙂

  2. Definitely! Being called r***rded and being told your life will amount to nothing is something no one deserves (even if, hey, retail is all they do!). A retail “survivor” takes their revenge in rising above it and moving on with the lessons retail taught them. 🙂

  3. I have worked in retail for 30 years in all levels from part time cashier to Store Manager and I could not have said it better. Got to thinking about the recent firing of the Rutger Basketball Coach just fired for bullying his players. Why do these retail giants tolerate their associates being bullied by their customers? Oh, got it they are paying the bill. In this “0” tolerance of bullying society today I quess this is the one place bullys still rule. I have been called such obscene names, hit, had things thrown at me, told I would be stabbed in the parking lot when leaving work, spit on, threatened with my job, etc. And when I complained to higher management was meant with little to no sympathy. Part of the job sort of attitude. I will retire this year and am counting the days. I am battle scarred but wiser for it all. I go out of my way to compliment any cashier or salesman I come in contact with and hope I have made their day better. Bless everyone who has ever worked in retail, you are assured a place in heaven.

  4. I completely agree – working in customer service is definitely a challenging experience, and it’s character building knowing how to deal with difficult people! Great post x

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