Degree or experience in customer service? What books will not teach you about real human clients.

Updated: Jun 28

Over the last 2 years I have applied in more than 250 job applications and none of them has offered me the job. And why is that? I don’t have a degree, and mostly guys that do have more chances than me to get the job. People that when it comes to customer service they know all the tactics that experts have taught them all the way of what to avoid and how to behave the right way to gain the best of the buyer – client.

I don’t say that earning a degree is a bad thing or the knowledge that you gain from it doesn’t give you the heads up to a better job position. It does but don’t delete all those guys like me that we have more than 20 years of “real” service, dealing with real customers, with real needs and real complaints. In customer service degree statistics is good, average behaviors are nice but there’s nothing average when it comes to real human behaviors and problems. What books will not teach you is that there are main categories of clients when it comes to customer service. There are so many of those categories I really feel I could write a book. And maybe I will sometime in the future.

Let’s take a look to the most common categories of clients that you’ll meet in a coffee shop or a restaurant:

The Complainer

The most common category in customer service. If you are a waiter, at least once a day you’ll deal with a person like that. The complainer has many personal problems (mostly daddy issues or is the black sheep of the family or his wife has left him for another guy) and he is looking for things to complain. Most of the times the water that you offered him was not too cold and his coffee has more sugar than the one he asked or less sugar and he wants another coffee. No matter how much you’ll try to satisfy him he will always try to find reasons to complain about.

How to deal with him: Learn from his moves. Most of these people have a pattern in their complaints. Learn from his behavior and try to be one step forward in his demands.

As I said earlier you must really love what you do in order to do it right. And that applies in every job that we choose to do.

The narrator

We all have lived stories that are funny or sad and we wanted to share them with friends when we are out for a drink or in a restaurant. I don’t say that this is bad. On the contrary sharing personal moments with people that you care about makes people comes closer and real friendships to blossom.

But it’s different when it comes to a client that wants to share with you his personal problem when you serve his coffee or food. Most of these people come alone and they choose a table that is away from other people. These people will never raise their hand to draw your attention to order. They will stare at you until you go ask them if they want something to order. These people will start asking you things in order to find the word that they need to start telling you about their problem. Imagine them as predators looking for your weakness to attack. They’ll never want you to give them your own advice or find solutions to their problems. In their minds, their problems are unsolvable and they only want to share them with you.

If that person has financially problems he will start asking you if you’re working as a full time job or part time and if you’re happy with the money that you earn from this job. He’ll never ask you for the amount of money that you earn. He doesn’t care about details. He wants to make an intro in showing that he wants to know about you just to start narrating his problems. Most of the times he blames the government or the Covid-19 for his loss of money.

If he has emotional issues then he will start making questions about your personal life. Questions like if you are married, how many years you are together and if you are happy in your relationship. He doesn’t want to know about details. He wants to find the right word to start narrating about the way his wife left him or why he never got married. Most of the times his opinion is that all the women are the same and they are looking for a way to cheat on you no matter how good you are.

If he has residues from a terrible loss of life he will exhale with indignation until you do the mistake and ask him if he’s alright.

How to deal with him: Always listen with a look of interest and NEVER try to advise him. He wants to tell his problem and leave. Show that you want to listen to him. If you do this person will be there every day which means a happy client and a stable income for your work.

And remember every client earned is a way to stay afloat and keep your work.

The celebration guy

Most of these guys want to reserve tables for at least 15 people or more and they most want your fully attention because he wants to amaze all these people by showing that he has special treatment as a great spender, as someone who is famous and he wants a VIP service for his own demonstration. Mostly for stories in social media, celebrating his birthday or his name day. For the 2 hours that he’ll be there he wants you to forget all the other customers and deal only with him.

How to deal with him: Try to give him all he needs and pay attention to the people that are with him. Because most of the times he has done his part for the month but you have his company with 15 or more potential clients that you’ll have to earn them with your behavior and your accurate and fast service. Let them know that you have the best service in town even if your products are average quality, a good service always wins.

The anniversary guy

There are these guys that want to offer a great night to his wife or girlfriend with a variety of finger food, small candles and the great view your shop offers especially if it is based close to a sea or a cliff or somewhere beautiful. These guys don’t want to spend a lot of money because if they did they would have preferred a fancy restaurant or an expensive hotel to demonstrate their love by doing something extra-ordinary.

How to deal with them: If they want to arrange something special they will contact you earlier in order to arrange a booking for your best table which means that you have all the time to prepare with the things that he’ll please him. Things like small candles, a small cake for their anniversary, great bottled wine and your best finger food for a great night. Make him tip you well and win him with your attention and your great service. If you love your job, this is the best way to unfold your creativity and make him love your place.

“Waiters are Servants” customer.

The type of customer that believes that the waiter exists to fulfill his needs. The most common customer of this category believes that the waiter in order to “earn” his wage must do a lot of things besides his serving duties. Most of the times he wants to send him to buy him cigarettes in the closest market or to pay attention of his kids while his absence or to order him food that he wants to eat from the closest restaurant. I don’t know if that happens in other countries but there are a lot of them in Greece that don’t ask for your permission to do all these things. They demand it.

How to deal with them: Show them what you are able to do or better place your own limits on how you can help him and what you can’t do.

“You’ll never get a tip” customer.

The type of customer that will never give you a tip no matter how much you’ll try. The most common customer of this category he’ll wait for his change even if it’s only 1 cent. He doesn’t do it because he doesn’t know how much to give you as a tip. He does it because he believes that you already earn a lot of money and you shouldn’t expect for something more.

How to deal with them: Every customer’s money counts. You need them in your shop. It’s always pleasant to get a tip because you feel that the customer is really pleased with your service but getting a tip is not your only purpose in this work and not something that you’ll demand to get it.

“The Tourist” customer.

Last but not least is the type of customer that just arrived in your city and wants information about accommodation and places to visit. If the age of this customer is above 60, it’s something that shouldn’t really bother you because of the fact that older people don’t have a great knowledge of nowadays technology. But for ages between 20 and 50 every smartphone has Google Maps that has every information about restaurants, hotels and places to entertain themselves. In that case if they don’t search them from themselves it is because they want to narrate the story of where they began their journey and how they reached in your city.

How to deal with them: You’ll give information to everyone no matter how disturbing is to give information to those who can really search for it. Your job demands that you’ll be kind to everyone no matter how their behavior or their attitude really make you disturbed or not. Working as a waiter means that you have nerves of steel and stomach ready to digest a lot of different behaviors. Your kindness and your smile should always be your defence.

REMEMBER: Love your job or don’t do it at all. Every job needs your attention, your creativity and the best of you each and every day. Personal problems must stay out of your job environment.

If you feel that this article matches with situations of buyer – clients that you have dealt with sometime in your career please share with us your own story in the comments below.


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