22/03/2014

Top 3 Reasons Why Your First Job Needs To Be in Customer Service

If you’ve met me today, you will never guessed that I used to live in a gated community with chauffeur and housemaids. I’ve never worked a day in my life until I was 21, when it suddenly hit me that I wanted more than just my allocated pocket money. It just happened that my first job was for a Dyson distributor — to be exact, it was cold-calling prospective customers to find out how things went during the home demo, and find out if they’ve wanted to buy a Dyson vacuum cleaner. It was a difficult job for me, because not only English was my second language, but Australians can be very…upfront about how they feel about customer service representatives. Most people were nice enough, but I also copped a share of abusive ones that made me feel pea-sized by the end of a one-sided yelling session. Yet when I look back on my cold-calling days, I am very thankful that I was, at one point, working in customer service. Here’s why:

1. It teaches you to be humble
When you’re fresh out of college/ university, you think you’re on top of the world. Armed with the knowledge you’ve learnt in school, you think you are destined to change the world. In fact, you’re much better than that high school drop out who just scanned your grocery at Woolies.

That was how I felt too — until I realised that it is not easy to be on your feet for 8 to 12 hours a day, while dealing with the wackiest/ craziest personality that comes through the store.

The people you meet in a customer service job is a snapshot of society — you get the nice ones, the condescending ones, the mean ones and the simply crazy ones. Just dealing with a mean one is enough to pull someone off their high pedestal to realise that sometimes a university degree does not help in soothing a livid customer.

2. It teaches you to be grateful for customer service reps
Think about it: how often do you say “thank you” to the faceless voice in Phillipines or India who helped you when you couldn’t connect your printer to your laptop/ computer? It seems like we just take their service for granted.

If you have been on the other side, you will come to have an appreciation for customer service reps. Most of the time, customer service reps are the first people to be on the receiving end of a brunt, mostly for something that they did not do. Yet, instead of telling you to shove it up your arse or calling you a retard, they patiently explain to your the process and even provide you with a solution. For that, they deserve a big thank you!

3. It increases your confidence
Having to interact with so many people everyday, customer service reps are pretty much thrown in the deep end from Day 1. You’re given a script, a list of phone numbers and you’re left on your own to figure it out. We live in a time-poor era, and customers will only give you one chance. If you stutter, you’re out. Unsure of your product? Be prepared to live off canned tunas for the month. Even when you’re in the complaints department, you’ll have to turn on your charm and confidence to reassure customers that you’ve got everything covered.

My Dyson days helped me get over the culture shock I faced in Australia. After a few stumbles and tears, I supposed I grew a “thick skin” and put myself out there without worrying about judgments. The skills laid out above are, to me at least, essential skills to survive the workplace.

I also believe that working or having worked in customer service will makes you a nicer person. Where I once took for granted the service that my housemaids gave me, now I say thanks with a nod and smile to encourage them. Afterall, what they are doing is not much different from an engineer, a doctor or lawyer does, and they too, deserve gratitude for a service provided.

This post is also published on Medium.

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