The Psychology of A**holes

It’s a problem that has been sweeping the world of retail.  A problem that has haunted our nightmares and without them our job would be so much better…It’s a problem I heard complained about in my stores and it’s the that stories continue to haunt us in so many retail blogs!

A Simple Logistics Equation:

Where does my pay check come from?  My Company

Where does my company gain that money?  Solely through the sales of product.

Who purchases said product?  The Customers

So whose money is really in your pocket?

So What, They Shouldn’t be Such A**holes

Customers can be difficult, and yes you will have the incredibly rare actual a**hole customer.  But consider what their silent expectations may be walking into your store.  To everyone their money holds a different value; to some five dollars is worth more than forty as according to their bank account. They hope to have equal value of service to match the value that they are paying mentally.  This is not a concept I came to fully understand right into the game, in fact it took a couple of years before I stopped acting like an a**hole myself to difficult customers.

It was not until I was transferred out of my store that printed thousands of tickets a day and into a store that literally experienced perhaps only three customers a day (on a busy day).  All the sudden the shoe was truly on the other foot, the value of each body in my store was so high.  On the day of a city freeze on a February 1st, we had one customer, and she bought three pairs of earrings that were on promo, buy two get one free.   The sale totaled $20.  My employees at a store level expectation of a daily average aicket price of $21 dollars a day saw this as an incredibly successful day.  They had a 100% conversion rate of shoppers to buyers, and they only missed their target ticket price by a dollar instead of ten by convincing the customer to take the three for the price of two.

I started to truly see it from the customer’s perspective as I had more time to hear their stories and concerns.  I had more time to conversationally  and casually ask for their needs and expectations of my abilities.  Customers that had the less to give truly expected the most, and understandably so.  The frustrated or ‘irrationally’ upset customers were rare after that.  The ones that ignored me when I greeted them or approached them didn’t offend me, and the underhanded or snide comments about service ceased to exist for any of my employees.

So What Could I do Differently as an Associate

A customer approaches an associate with a complaint or concern:

1. Remember that they do not have store policy memorized like you do.  Do not talk down to them, or as if you do not have the time to hear their complaint.  Or question why they do not understand the policies and protocols that have not yet been shoved down their throat through rigorous training.  Explain anything to them not as if they were an idiot, but instead understanding that they haven’t read the same manuals you have. Break it down for them the way it broken down for you your first day on the job.

2.  Listen Intently-There complaint is invaluable because it is probably a popular misconception or complaint in the back of many customer’s minds.  They were just brave enough to come forward and present their misinterpretations.  Nod and do not interrupt or lose eye contact.  Keep your arms at your side, make sure in no way your body appears as menacing or impatient as you may truly feel.

3. Thank Them- What?!  Yes you read that correctly.  They could have just as easily left with that concern and not given you the opportunity to explain.  Instead they could have talked poorly about the company to other potential customers in their social circles.  They could have instead of approaching you gone online and posted a terrible review not only publicizing their distaste to a community of actual potential customers, but also leaving you vulnerable to your supervisors.  But instead they approached you, and gave you the opportunity to solve the problem one on one first.

Yes, it is tiring to be so repetitive, but you have chosen a career in customer service, and so be sure that you offer all customers a valuable experience.

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6 thoughts on “The Psychology of A**holes

  1. Great article on how to handle someone of difficulty. Trying to diffuse the situation can be helpful in most cases. There are people that their job is being an assholes and live to make peoples lives difficult.
    Sometimes those in customer service become psychologist and we end up figuring why they are the way they are and lure them from their asshole ways.
    If not, you can always come and vent on my blog. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And if that company handicaps your abilities to provide proper service or does not protect you from the true assholes (i.e. violent people with obvious issues) then go work somewhere else.

    Liked by 1 person

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