Are you receiving bad customer service? Maybe the problem is you...

I was in the shops recently when I received bad customer service. It wasn’t until I recalled the conversation to my husband that I realised that it was me who had caused it.

I went to buy my favourite lipstick from a department store and was in a hurry. I knew which type I wanted and I knew exactly where to take it off the shelf and pay for it. But when I started to approach the lipstick display, a female shop assistant came over and asked if I needed any assistance.

“No, I know what I’m looking for”, I replied, hurriedly.

She asked if I wanted to put the lipstick I had chosen behind the counter while I browsed. I snapped back, “I want to buy it now if that’s OK”.

The young woman looked taken aback but at the time I read this as rudeness. I had essentially passed my bad mood on to her but didn’t consider it was due to my own abruptness and not her lack of customer service skills.

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I walked to the counter with my lipstick and she advised that if I bought another item, I’d qualify for a gift pack. I didn’t respond and simply handed over my card. Just remembering it now makes me feel terrible. She under her breath, “OK then…” and asked if I wanted a receipt and I snapped back “If that’s not too hard”.

She passed it over to me and I walked away before I could hear her say “Have a nice day”. I went away feeling annoyed and like I was trying to be sold things I didn’t want. It was not the most frustrating encounter I’ve had but what my husband said afterwards put it into perspective for me.

“Sounds like you were the rude one”, he said. “You went in there and wanted good customer service, but when you got it, you didn’t recognise it”.

“No wonder she was annoyed!”. But how dare she try and make me buy more? I just wanted one thing.

“How was she supposed to know that? She’s just doing her job”, the hubby said. I knew he was right and it made me think about all the stories I’d heard over the last few weeks, months and years from friends with bad experiences.

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One of the common denominators was the customer’s attitude. Though of course that wasn’t exclusively the case, but the principle of treating someone how you’d like to be treated really applies, even to people serving you.

Go in with a smile and you’re more likely to get a smile. Go with a frown and guess what? You’ll get a frown.

I called up the store and told the manager that the girl who served me was very helpful and I appreciated her service. It’s easy to forget to give compliments and not just complaints.


Have you ever had a bad customer experience but realised you had been wrong? Or do you feel that it’s up to the staff member to do what they can to turn your mood around?