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Spoons Offline
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Growing a spine when dealing with customers - June 17th 2016, 03:46 AM

I started working as a pharmacy tech and today was my first day working in my pharmacy. For the most part the techs and customers were nice and understanding that I'm new.

But there was one lady who made a scene because I asked her address. It's protocol to ask for addresses for verification purposes. Even if you're the only person that pops up on or system we still ask to prevent the possibility of someone malicious going to steal someone else's script. She said that she never had to do so before to which I apologized and said I was new and that this was the protocol I was taught. She said that we were just doing this on purpose, yada yada. I ended up getting teary eyed and having to hold back tears. Fortunately the shift supervisor saw me struggling and stepped in to get us over that hurdle.

How do I grow a spine when working with customers? I obviously can't just start crying every time someone is upset.

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Re: Growing a spine when dealing with customers - June 17th 2016, 04:05 AM

Hey Dez (can I call you that?),
I don't think this is an issue of growing a spine. I think you're a sensitive person and therefore when people behave like douches for no reason it hurts. But I guess the best thing you can do is try and tell yourself its not your fault. Thats hard, but creating that divide should help.
Also, I think what you can do is believe in yourself. You've been given a protocol, and think it makes sense, follow it and tell the customer to shut up. Often I've seen customers try and bully people, and when the person stands up the customer backs off.
Hope I helped.
Again its not an issue of growing a spine. I think you've got plenty spine. I think you're just sensitive.
PM me if you wanna talk.
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Re: Growing a spine when dealing with customers - June 17th 2016, 09:36 AM

My mum works in a pharmacy, so I've heard how stressful it can be dealing with difficult customers. Unfortunately, pharmacies are stressful places, and customers probably don't realise the amount of work that goes in to getting their medication ready.

It's understandable that you are new and might worry about things, but as long as you follow what you've been taught, then you aren't doing anything wrong (no matter what customers say).

I think that it's also good to remember to not take it personally (even though it might feel that way). It sounds like the customer you were dealing with, was probably a regular one that other staff members would've recognised and that might be why she felt that she didn't have to give her address (even though it definitely is protocol). In that case, try to remember that the customers reactions aren't directly towards you, but at the fact that she might feel she shouldn't have to give her address.

Hope this helps a little

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Re: Growing a spine when dealing with customers - June 17th 2016, 05:49 PM

I've worked with customers for awhile now, and they're impossible everywhere. At first, I had the same feelings you did. I just wanted to cry when someone was being rude and difficult. There isn't really anything you can do, other than try to turn it into a humorous situation (in your head). I started secretly laughing at rude customers. For example, I worked in a rich suburb full of snobby people. My customers would complain over a $1 difference on a quoted price. Yet, they drive BMWs, wear designer clothes, and live in big fancy houses. It didn't make sense for them to argue over $1. They acted like it was literally the end of the world. So I just started laughing at them (again, in my head) because of how irrational they were. So try to laugh it off, and it will get easier to do that as time goes on!

Also, I suggest you watch some famous movies on the subject... Check out "The Shop Around The Corner" and "Clerks". When you realize that customers everywhere act nuts, you'll laugh it off more easily
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Re: Growing a spine when dealing with customers - June 17th 2016, 07:26 PM

I mean my sister worked customer service for many years and I've heard some of her horror stories going so far as people throwing cartons of OJ at her. So I've always known they can be impossible. I'm sensitive I guess and having anxiety doesn't help.

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Re: Growing a spine when dealing with customers - June 20th 2016, 12:22 PM

I feel like when you work in customer-facing roles for a while, you eventually just develop coping techniques. When I was younger, I would pretty much be in tears (literally) when customers were rude to me, but nowadays, having done it for a while, I tend to just separate it in my mind and get upset about it later (and by then the pain isn't so close so I probably won't cry). For some reason, detaching myself mentally from what's happening helps me. But also, learning and practicing conflict resolution skills might go a long way too because detaching yourself only goes so far.

Feel free to PM me if you ever need to chat or have questions
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Re: Growing a spine when dealing with customers - June 21st 2016, 07:17 AM

As someone who has worked customer service jobs for 4 years, I can promise that it does get easier to deal with. It sucks getting yelled at by a complete stranger for following company protocol, but you'll start to feel less intimidated by them as you gain more confidence in the work that you're doing.

Chances are the customer has been asked for her address every single time she comes to the pharmacy. But, there are people out there who just like to cause scenes and take out their bad days on employees. Those people are good at telling who the new employees are and those are typically the ones that they target. When customers give you a hard time for following company policies, try to explain the policy in a way that will show the customer why it is a benefit to them. Like you said with this particular situation, asking customers for their address is a way of ensuring that nothing malicious is going on and that the person is who they say they are. If you explain the reasoning for the policy to the customer, they don't have much else to go on when it comes to yelling at you. You'll be showing them that you understand why certain policies are in place and that you aren't willing to push that to the side just to please the customer. If they continue to yell at you, don't hesitate to get a manager. That's part of what management teams are there for, after all!

As far as coping techniques go, you'll learn them over time. Honestly, there will come a point where customers yelling at you just rolls off your back and isn't something that you even think about anymore. For now, just try to remind yourself that you aren't at fault for anything that they're yelling about. You're just doing your job to the best of their abilities and, realistically, they're the problematic ones for choosing to treat a customer service employee like a lesser being, rather than an actual person.

I have a lot more to say on this and a million stories that you might be able to relate to, so feel free to shoot me a message if you'd like! I have 4 years of tips up my sleeve, but I'm trying to avoid turning this into a novel.

You've got this, Dez!

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