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5 Tips for Horrible Customer Service

Updated on January 17, 2012

If you're not happy, no one should be happy.

Pointing at people and grimacing are both great moves.
Pointing at people and grimacing are both great moves. | Source

Bad Service Must be Good Business!

All too often I go into places that have forgotten that the faces they put in front of you represent their business. I went shopping with my wife tonight at one place that was full of smiling, happy people who wanted me to buy things. Insolent fools! They should know better than that.

However, we did leave and go to pick up a prescription for me a few minutes later. The pharmacy had it down. They were running things the good old fashioned way. I'm sure the HMS Bounty, if it had offered guest service, would have felt a bit like that pharmacy. Needless to say, they left quite an impression on me. I thought I'd share the 5 things that stuck in my mind as setting them apart from the rest.

#1 The Customer is Wrong. That's a bit light. I really was made to feel that I was a fool. The information I had, with their corporate logo on it, was obviously wrong. When I offered additional information, Sheba (I think that was her name), ignored me. Despite pointing out that another place had just completed the exact same transaction with the same information, I was made to feel as though no such transaction had been completed in such a way in the history of mankind.

#2 Acting Pleasant is for Chumps. Why bother to say a simple, "Hello?" You should always jump to "whaddayouwant?" or some other monosyllabic slurring of words. You're not in business to make people happy. You're there to hand people stuff...eventually, if they make YOU happy. Curt, abrupt, abrasive: these should be your watchwords.

#3 Never Acknowledge the Other People. If a long line is forming at your counter because of some jerk who refuses to leave, you absolutely do not want to call for extra help. Nor do you want to say something like, "Be with you in a minute," to the other folks. Most importantly, when someone comes up and says, "Can you unlock the bathroom. I'm afraid I peed in my pants," just call "Code 88" over the intercom. The poor guy knows exactly what that means. He'll head straight for the bathroom instead of standing around looking embarrassed.

#4 Do Not, Under ANY Circumstances, Admit You Have No Idea What's Going On! You are the expert. You're behind the counter. If you weren't behind the counter, you might not know anything. But, indeed, you are back there. Merely the existence of a counter imbues you with a cloak of intelligence. No one else who works with you knows anything. You don't need to ask them anything.

#5 Never, Never, Never try and Solve a Problem. Obviously, you've heard that an angry customer goes out and tells 1.25 billion of their closest friends how horrible their experience was. If that customer was such a pain, you absolutely never want to have their business again. Nor would you want the business of anyone they ever happen to talk to. Problems that walk out the door aren't your problem. They totally won't call your corporate office. Only jerks do that.

Now don't take this as a comprehensive list. You have many more options to choose from. You could spit on the customers. You can curse them. You can dress inappropriately. You can refuse to notice them. I mean, the possibilities are endless.

It may take years to hone your skills to a Basil Fawlty-like precision, but with luck you'll make it!


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    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I think you have it down pat. I think good customer service is largely a matter of courtesy and respect for other people. Telephone stuff is the worst when one gets transferred to someone who barely speaks English.

    • DougBerry profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Abilene, TX

      That was pretty much what I should have asked at the pharmacy. I did get a call back from the GM of the store the next day. I am not the first to get treated badly by that particular Pharmacy Tech.

    • profile image

      Kieran Gracie 

      9 years ago

      I love the story of the customer at a New York store, who goes up to the Customer 'Help' desk and says: 'Hey, could you help me, or should I just go f*** myself?'. Apocryphal? Maybe and, incidentally, I spent nearly 10 happy years in that great city, so it must be doing something right!

    • LoriSoard profile image


      9 years ago from Henryville, Indiana

      Love it. This seems to be par for the course these days. Bad service is spreading. I try to always go the extra mile for my web design clients and other customers. I think that is why my business keeps growing.

    • Liz Green Berry profile image

      Liz Green Berry 

      9 years ago from TX

      This, of course, only applies to the private sector where your boss can do something novel like fire you. I work for the government - I can be mean to you if I want!



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