Before being allowed to work with the public, job applicants should be required to take a customer service skills test to see if they have any business being behind a cash register or wearing a fancy name tag.
You’d think testing would be a commonplace requirement. But if it is, we clearly need a better way to detect customer service rejects. So, here’s the test I would use, one that’s completely unscientific, and probably not even safe to use in the work environment, but that’s not my problem. If you use a humor columnist as part of your outsourced Human Resources department, you’ve got bigger issues than customer service.
Question one: "Do you hate customers?" This blunt question gets straight to the heart of half of all customer service issues. If you’ve ever met a surly register jockey, or an angry young waiter, or a hate-filled hat check girl, you know what I’m talking about. If you ask this question and get a "yes" or even a "well... maybe... sure," then you’ve found someone who is about to make a career mistake at your expense. This person needs to be in a different job more suited for his/her hatred of humanity. Villains need henchmen, so that’s a possibility. Ask them how they look in a cape. Or, you could suggest they work the graveyard security shift in a graveyard. You get very few flesh-and-blood visitors at 3 a.m. on bone-yard patrol. Just don’t put these applicants behind your cash register so they can huff and moan and complain as they create loyal ex-customers for your business.
Question two: "Do you hate service?" This blunt question nails the remaining 50 percent of the customer service problem. What if your applicant says, "Service? I dunno... That’s… like... WORK, right?" Oh boy, have you been spared a major hiring blunder! Suggest the applicant go into a job where real work is optional. Suggest he/she consider taking a job at the zoo grooming the unicorns. Just don’t let that applicant laze around your place while your customer base writes you off for good.
As you can see, 100 percent of bad customer service comes down to two simple things: hatred of the customer and/or hatred of service. Pretty simple, huh? Yeah. Well, It’s been wonderful chatting with you! Do come back soon if I can be of further service. Gosh, I’ll miss you until then!
David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Covington and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.