Tips for Working with the Public

Working with the public is a basic part of many jobs, including retail and customer service. It isn’t always easy to deal with people, and over time one can lose motivation to perform well. Whether you’re a student working part-time job or a full-time employee, the following tips can not only make your job more pleasant but also lead to better opportunities and pay.

Assume the Best

Not all customers or clients you encounter are bad. After dealing with difficult people, it’s easy to just assume that everyone will be rude or demanding. This assumption can become a self-fulfilling prophecy because once you display rudeness or lack of concern, others will become frustrated and match your attitude. A percentage of customers or clients will be rude but if you don’t assume the worst immediately, you might be surprised how friendly most people can be.

Have a Script

Even the most seasoned professionals can be taken aback by an upset or demanding customer. It’s helpful to have a basic scripts that you follow in both day-to-day interactions and in specific situations. A standard greeting and other niceties are easy, but interactions may become more complex. Therefore, you should have phrases that allow you to maintain your composure and diffuse heated situations. Ask your manager for advice on how to deal with difficult customers or watch to see how more experienced coworkers interact. You may also take inspiration from your own experience as a customer or client. For ideas, read Perfect Phrases for Customer Service, Second Edition (Perfect Phrases Series)

Show Empathy

Many angry or difficult customers have a legitimate reason to be upset. Although you may not be to blame for the problem, it’s important to demonstrate concern and a desire to help resolve the issue. Often people are angry not because of the underlying problem, but because they’ve been dismissed or ignored when seeking help. Showing a bit of empathy can go a long way when trying to placate a mad customer.

Be Self-Aware

A lot can be conveyed through body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. Sometimes you may not say anything wrong but it can seem rude, sarcastic or accusatory due to intonation or non-verbal cues. If you aren’t confident in your communication skills, practice with a friend or record yourself. You may also want to ask for feedback from a co-worker or manager.

Interacting with people all day long can be exhausting and thankless work, but it can teach valuable skills that can prove beneficial no matter what career path you eventually pursue. Need more help with difficult customers, clients, coworkers, or others at work? Read Difficult People: Dealing With Difficult People At Work