You go to school and spend hours each day studying and working on assignments. On top of that, you try to keep up with your social life and take care of your mental health. However, you also have dreams, and those dreams alone do not pay the bills. So, you decide to get either a part or full-time job.
After a long day of dealing with your own problems, you show up to work only to get yelled at by a customer for a mistake on their order. They belittle you and make you feel dumb. I first-hand have experienced this feeling, and it makes you feel angry and useless. In the back of your mind you either want to cry or flip them off, but you cannot, or your manager will fire you.
People who work in retail, fast food, at a reception desk or in any other type of customer service know the struggle of having to deal with rude customers every day. Companies have strict policies when it comes to handling difficult customers. However, those policies are made to protect the customers and the company’s image rather than its employees.
“Unfortunately, all too often, the person who has been attacked is disciplined right alongside the attacker…in which case the employer often dismisses the employee in an effort to mitigate possible liability,” mentions the HG Legal Resources website.
There are five reasons why customer service workers should be able to stand up against rude customers without fear of dismissal or repercussions.
Some customers go too far
It is one thing to get upset because your order is taking too long or because a cashier gave you a nasty attitude and report it to a manager. However, it is another thing to physically or verbally assault an employee when they are just doing their job or when they accidentally make a mistake.
There have been many cases of customers attacking employees and getting away with it because employees are not allowed to fight back.
According to the Today website, on June 27th, a 19-year-old female McDonald’s employee was physically attacked by a racist customer who refused to wear a mask in the drive thru. The man called her names and then proceeded to grab her neck, slap, and scratch her.
When police arrived, the manager at the location refused to provide the authorities with surveillance footage of the incident and the worker had to call for help on her own. As a worker, you should be able to rely on management to protect you from rude customers. This is only one of thousands of situations which escalate further than they need to.
Employers should implement a policy where the moment a customer curses at an employee or lays their hands on them, employees should be able to defend themselves. If they wish to fight back, they should be able to do so at their own risk. Additionally, people in management should be terminated for not defending and protecting their employees.
Customer service workers do not get paid enough
Working minimum wage is sometimes barely motivation to show up to work. Let alone enough to deal with a stubborn customer for a long time until a manager or supervisor can take over the situation. If employers expect regular employees to deal with customers in the same manner which managers and supervisors have been trained and get paid to do so, regular employee’s wages should also go up. Minimum wage means employers should expect minimum effort.
Employees have feelings
Unfortunately, many times customers get away with yelling at employees. While employees may act like they don’t care, they do have feelings and opinions about their experiences with customers. Just because customers are paying for a company’s service does not mean they are paying to be treated like royalty. If the employee is acting rude or inconsiderately to the customer, then the customer has every right to call a manager and make a complaint. However, the customer should never personally try handling an issue with the employee.
You never know what someone else is going through, which is why you should never treat someone else how you would not want to be treated. Just like customers are free to say whatever they want, employees should also be able to.
While companies need to keep the workplace professional, if employees are not feeling well emotionally, they should not be forced to interact with customers. There should be exceptions which allow employees to work on tasks that do not involve customer interaction without getting in trouble for it.
Companies need to understand that life has a toll on everyone and that neither employees or customers are robots. Leaving an employee that is going through something to interact with customers can harm an employee’s emotional and mental health.
Some people deserve a taste of their own medicine
It may feel easy to attack someone you know cannot defend themselves. Some customers feel entitled to five-star service from local businesses that see hundreds of customers each day. Because they get away with it, customers will only feel reinforced with the idea that they are above everyone else. However, employees should be able to treat customers how they treat them.
More than half of the time, customers make a bigger deal than is necessary and act as if they are better than everyone working in customer service when that is not true. I once had a customer call corporate on me because I didn’t look them in the eye when taking their order although they were making me feel uncomfortable. I did not get in trouble for it, but it showed me how ridiculous some customers are when they do not get what they want. What comes around should go around.
While employees are able to report harassment in the workplace to their supervisors, a lot of times, employees have to deal with customer harassment which some managers see as customer friendliness.
Employers should be a lot stricter when it comes to situations like these, allowing employees to refuse service to customers the moment they feel uncomfortable.
The customer is not always right
Many times, customers feel the need to always be right. If employees tell them they cannot do something or that the customer did not order something specifically how they wanted it, the customer will always argue that they are right.
Many businesses live by a customer “the customer is always right” policy in an attempt to make it seem like they care about their customers. However, customers should know that they are in fact, not always right. Because of that, employees should not feel forced into pleasing a customer that is treating them wrongfully, especially when they did their job right.
Companies need to realize that one less customer is not going to harm the company. It actually might be better to implement policies that ban rude customers leaving regular customers with more pleasant experiences. Companies loose more money by trying to please rude customers that cause big scenes and scare other customers off.
“Being rude and angry doesn’t get you anything. [Customers] won’t get anything out of it, and [customers] will just make themselves look bad,” said former cashier Marcos Martinez.
People who work in customer service deal with a lot more than their job title describes. There are a lot of rude customers out there who feel the need to belittle employees to make themselves feel special.
Work policies in all businesses should be modified in order to better protect employees. New policies should allow employees to defend themselves either verbally or physically in the situation that a customer treats them with the same energy.