Recent studies have shown a strikingly large number of customer service workers experience either verbal or physical abuse by customers during their job. It’s been discovered that around one in two customer service employees experience some form of abuse, leading to serious concerns over the wellbeing of these staff.
This information comes about close to the holidays, and close to the busiest and most high-stress month of the year for retail and hospitality businesses. Due to high demand of products and not enough staff to go around, customers choose to take their frustrations out on someone else, and retail staff are the unlucky victims.
Most of us would have worked in a field like this at one point in our lives. Whether you worked it as a student to earn some extra money, or are still in the area today, the odds are you have either experienced disgruntled customers yourself, or seen a peer deal with them. So what is it that’s making our customers abuse retail staff, and why have they been putting up with it for so long?
You are probably familiar with the well-known mantra: “the customer is always right”. A line that seems to have turned into a scapegoat for any customer to hurl whatever accusations and complaints they desire with the knowledge they can’t be corrected. The long running saying started as a simple way to let employees know they should treat their customers with respect and work hard to meet their wishes in order to create a loyal rapport. However, it seems the people that need the most consideration today aren’t the customers at all, but the staff.
This idea that customers can say and do whatever they like seems to have lead many customers to conclude that this means abuse and disrespect is also accepted on the table. And unfortunately, this has only lead to entitled, bratty customers, and employees fearing bad reviews, complaints and abuse at any moment during the day.
Another concern is that many employers and businesses don’t, in fact, remain loyal to their employees. Staff are constantly given rules and regulations that they should maintain, however, most of the time, if a customer is persistent enough in complaining, a business owner or manager will make an easy exception for them, leaving the employer to be the bad guy.
With holiday shopping at its peak, news platforms around the country are raising awareness to the seriousness of customer abuse, and this change will hopefully lead to employers standing up for their staff, and customers learning the harsh truth that yes, they will always be important, but no, they will not always be right.
It’s important to remember in this festive season that everyone is human. Mistakes can be made, and some things are simply out of a worker’s control. Treat staff you meet with the respect you would want for yourself, and help this busy season run smoothly and pleasantly.
And for goodness sake, don’t spit on a retail worker.