Customers come to you with a frown, and it’s your job to turn it into a smile. Even when circumstances beyond your control happen that affect your customers' moods, you are the one who gets lambasted. There are even times when you try your very best to produce a positive outcome for their dilemma, and it just doesn't work out. During these times, you stand firm in your answer, and your customer shifts their eye contact in search of another employee to validate or not validate your answer. Or ask to speak with your manager. What was it about what you said that they didn’t understand? Was it because you are a woman that they think you need help handling the situation?
Working with customers can be hard. There are times when someone thinks of you as their punching bag. Customers may unload their anger and frustrations onto you because they want to get it off their own chest. Or, they could expect extra measures to be taken on their behalf because you seem so nice. Your job is to fix problems, and you have the skillset to do it. Customer service is often one of the most important jobs in a business, but it gets the least praise.
Does all this sound familiar? Then you must be a woman in customer service! Here are five frustrations every woman in customer service faces, so you don't feel alone in your daily challenges.
When a customer comes to you with a problem, you want to help him or her out. But when they don’t like your answer, it can dial into any self-doubt you have inside your body. The entire interaction and decision can be processed in a second and you can feel out of control. You go from someone empowered to the service representative asking your manager for help. That’s never a good feeling.
Any good customer service representative will know that it’s our job to make customers happy. But sometimes putting ourselves last at this job can have regressive effects. For example, saying sorry too much when a mishap crops up can only anger the customer more. Or saying something is your fault can push the customer to ask for more and more leeway, discounts, or "I'm sorry" free shipping from you. It's a lose-lose situation.
If you are of the caring and kind variety, some customers will try to use your kindness to their advantage. For example, some customers may have you listen to their problems, then use their sad situation to manipulate you and drive the situation in their favor. Or, they share their emotions with you just to use you as a punching bag. It's not fun.
We all know that the dynamics between women and their male managers can be detrimental. But in customer service, which sometimes lacks the protections professional women have like economic privilege or the perception of being educated and intelligent, bad management can be especially present. Male managers can be patronizing, unequal in how they distribute responsibilities and promotions, and more.
Some people who work with you in customer service apparently haven’t had a drink of the new Kool-Aid going around. The Kool-Aid that empowers women and doesn’t subject them to lewd comments. Customer service agents are subject to all kinds of nasty comments about their appearances or other traits because they're required to be nice to everyone. It's a serious problem.
Yes, it can be easy to get stuck in the routine of life and accept some of the behaviors mentioned as your new normal. The goal of customer service is to please the customer so that they keep coming back and buying from the business. But don't let your kind nature work against you. You are making a difference at your job by leading as an example. Show other women at your business not to accept flack from customers. You are inherently valuable, whether or not you make the sale.
Gabriella DiDio is tired of the struggles of getting ahead in her career so, instead of revolting, she created Taupe Shoes — an empowering website for women that can help you become stronger through your work dilemmas. You can follow Gabriella on Twitter.
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