Updated: Dec 12, 2018
I’m not a blogger. I don’t tweet much and I’m not an avid Facebook status updater — but here I am. Sharing my passionate and mostly random ideas, thoughts and rants. Welcome!!
Customer service as a process and experience has always grabbed my attention. Retail and service puts you in the face of the customer, and now, I mainly seek and provide support over the internet.
My first job…
If you don’t count selling Minute Maid Fruit Punch (not lemonade) on the sidewalk or my old board games in friends garage sales, I officially started my career in the service industry at age 14.
It was the summer between Freshmen and Sophomore year in high school — 1999 to be exact. I was hired as a bus-girl at Anderson’s Frozen Custard and Roast Beef — A Buffalo, NY staple for minimum wage and less than 40 hours a week.
My job was to change and take out the trash, clean the huge greasy pans the roast beef cooked in, mop the floor, clean the toilets and the tables, restock the condiments, napkins, straws and occasionally, if I was really lucky, decorate an ice cream cake — after hours of course.
I smelled like ketchup. I was going through puberty, sweating in my teal baseball hat, oversized white polo shirt and knee length khaki shorts that were a size too small. My white apron was covered in garbage juice, and my white-turned-gray Adidas sneakers had rainbow sprinkles stuck between the laces. I worked my butt off for under $90 a week and a free sandwich on my break.
I looked up to the local high school seniors and University at Buffalo college freshmen that elegantly scooped up the delicious bubble gum or mint chocolate chip Perry’s Ice Cream for customer after customer. They created beautifully twisted cones of soft serve with ease. They would hand their sundae masterpieces to small children with the brightest smiles I had ever seen.
I was stuck filling small bottles of vinegar and longed to be able to provide that ind of joy to someone. I wanted to make someone that happy and of course, get paid to do it.
One day, I saw a child drop their ice cream off of their cone a few minutes after they received it from the counter and knew it was my time to shine. It was this moment of calming down a frustrated parent after mopping up the dropped ice cream cone of their crying toddler. I asked for a fresh ice cream for them on the house and all of the frustration went away. My manager took notice and pulled me aside, explaining that they were so happy I took the initiative to correct the situation that nobody else had seen.
After that moment, I finally realized that I was making people happy — just in a different way. Part of me just needed a little more encouragement and a different point of view. Rarely did I have any really positive interaction with a customer — Usually I handled someone waiting in the crowded dining room for a clean table and felt frustrated, but I started to look at the role as more of a 'fixer' role. If I kept the tables clean, the frustration was low. If I helped to take a tray from a customer who had their hands full, I would be thanked with a warm smile.
Now I find that I am constantly reflecting on that moment during challenging times at my position, and its helped to bring me back to reality and focus on the basics of the importance of what I do every day.