Lessons in Customer Service

I didn’t mention in my previous blog, that while working at The Smiths Snackfood Company, I also took a weekend job at Priceline. My friend from high school worked there and told me the always needed people, so I decided to work the extra time and make some extra cash for the savings and the baby.

What I organised was to work one weekend Saturday and Sunday and the following weekend just Saturday. That meant I was at least having one day off out of every 14.

Priceline was as you’d expect, the doldrums, standing at a cash register, swiping things on the scanner, taking payment and bagging items.

It was though, my very first experience of fully rostered breaks. There was a lot of regulations around the people who stood at the register, but there was also a dire need to have people available for the register at all times. So, it wasn’t like other places where everyone could go for lunch at the same time.

Each day, we’d all be told our break times. There was a 15 minute break in the morning, a half hour lunch and a 15 minute break in the afternoon.

Now, the weird thing about it was, at the time, because it was all made up each day, sometimes you’d have a 15 minute break at 10am (the last break for the 15 minute ones) and then your lunch half hour would be 11am (the first lunch). Then your other 15 minute break would be 4pm (the last one).

I guess it broke the monotony a lot with the randomness.

During this time I learnt a lot about customer service. Because frankly, in Priceline, and other places like it, everyone is in customer service. Retail workers have the hardest jobs out of any type of industry I think. It is the epitome of the whole “customer is always right” mantra. You have to grin and bear everything that everyone throws at you. it doesn’t matter how weird, or stupid, the question seems, you have to answer it.

The most frustrating one was always “Do you have any of these out the back?” because, although there was a store room “out the back”, everything was on the shelves. The only reason anything was out the back was because of surplus. Like, there were way too many of them.

But, you had to grin and bear it, and often I’d find myself checking for the customer, even though all I was doing was walking into the store room and leaning on a wall for 5 minutes before I went back outside.

Working in retail gave me a great resilience and patience and I think without this period, I wouldn’t be able to service customers and clients as well as I do today.