13 Things Customer Service Workers Wish You Knew


Customer service is a huge part of the job field right now. Restaurants, sales, libraries, hospitals, you name it—anyone whose primary job is to help others is involved in service work. Here are a couple things that we all wish that you knew.

1. Always tip!

Always tip your servers! They are paid under minimum wage because tips are expected from customers. If it’s not included in the bill already. Even just the typical 15% is acceptable, but there’s nothing worse than giving your best service to a table that only leaves you a couple pieces of change.

2. If you don’t come within hours, you can’t come inside.

Stop pulling on the door when it’s locked. We see you. The hours are (more often that not) posted right on the door. Read them and come back when we’re open.

3. We have jobs other than just serving customers.

No matter where you go, our jobs always go beyond strictly serving you. Of course, taking care of the people who come in is our priority, but that isn’t to say it’s the only thing we need to accomplish that day. We don’t mind helping you or chatting with you a little bit, but neglecting our other tasks just to chat with you can completely throw ourselves and everyone else off and even get us in major trouble. Try to limit the amount of time you spend in conversation with us unless it’s relevant to what we can help you with.

4. Not all conversations are appropriate to have with us.

We are always willing to help you to the best of our abilities—that’s what we’re paid to do, after all—but there are some conversations you just can’t expect a stranger to react well to. Telling us about the death of your dog or how mad you are at your cheating boyfriend, unless relevant to the situation at hand, is just going to make us uncomfortable.

5. Do not hit on us.

Customer service is a profession in which we are paid to be nice to you. Therefore, when you ask for our phone numbers, ask if we’re single, or, god forbid, even touch us, it’s incredibly inappropriate and puts us in an uncomfortable situation where we have to choose between allowing the inappropriate behavior or risking losing our jobs for standing up for ourselves. The most attractive person I have ever seen could flirt with me while I was at work, and the fact that they weren’t aware enough of the dynamics between us at that moment to not cross that boundary would be an immediate deal breaker.

6. We don’t control policy, we just enforce it.

I promise you the person serving you your food, grabbing you the right size while you’re in the changing room, or the person checking your blood pressure doesn’t decide what they can and can’t do at work on their own. There is almost always someone higher up they’re reporting to, and a majority of the time they work for corporate instead of actually experiencing our positions on a day to day basis. Please don’t get mad at us over the cost of your meal, the unavailability of your size, or our inability to do something you’ve requested of us. We don’t make the rules, but our job and financial stability does depend on following them.

7. Procedures are there for a reason.

If you’re upset because something is harder to get to than you would like, it’s because other people kept stealing it. If you’re upset that someone else got seated before you, look at the size of your group—a group of 2 is certainly going to get a seat before a group of 10. There is always a method to what seems like our madness, and arguing with workers who are just doing their jobs isn’t going to change the rules.

8. Don’t interrupt while we’re helping other people.

If you walk in and someone is on the phone with a customer, do not walk up and start a conversation with them. If there is a long line, you can’t just walk up and ask a question as if the line isn’t there—you need to wait just like everyone else. If you don’t have time to wait, then come back another time.

9. If it looks busy, expect to wait.

If you walk into a building and see a bunch of people waiting in line at registers or for a table, assume there is going to be a wait. We can’t let you jump the line just because you’re in a hurry. If we’re busy, we’re busy—there’s nothing we can do about it and making a scene just holds us up even more.

10. Remember that people always have to clean up after you.

Leave clothes or random items scattered about the store? Someone is getting paid as little as humanly possible and now has to, instead of helping other customers or sitting down for the first time during their 10 hour shift, put it back for you. Make a mess of a bathroom? Now someone has to stay after their shift ended to clean it up for you instead of going home to their family. It takes 5 minutes to clean up after yourself, but it could make the difference between us having a terrible day or going home feeling at peace with the world.

11. Please use basic manners.

If we ask how your day was, just answer. If we say hi, say hi back. I shouldn’t have to explain why you should use basic human decency and manners towards other people.

12. You staying later means we have to stay later as well.

Repeating my earlier statement: I should not have to explain to you why you should use human decency. If you stay 20 minutes past closing, that means we are leaving 20 minutes later than we should have, getting 20 minutes less time to take care of ourselves or see our families, and quite possibly getting lectured our next shift for staying over our scheduled times. If we tell you we close in 15 minutes, it means one thing and one thing only: finish up and let us close so that we can move on with our day.

13. We are people too.

Before you yell at us, come in last minute, or dump your personal tragedies on us, take a second to remember a very important fact: we are people too. We do not only exist to help you. We have our own issues, our own families, our own bills to pay, and even though we’re playing a role that requires us to help you, we are human beings who are just as deserving of compassion as you are.