Customer service jobs are an amazing way to make money. When things are tight, it’s one of the quickest jobs that people jump to where they can pick up extra shifts, learn some new skills, and hopefully find a place where the pay is great enough to make rent next month. But the reality is, there’s a lot more to customer service jobs than just being able to get the job.
Whether you’re working the customer service desk at Target, waiting tables, or taking orders from Mickey D’s, customer service jobs are tough jobs that will sharpen you to be an all around better worker—if you let them. They’ll give you skills you didn’t even know you needed to develop, and they’ll teach you a lot about how humans work.
And sometimes it isn’t so pretty.
But if you’re up for the task, it’s really rewarding. If you think that that’s you, then check out a few of these traits that we’ve seen as essential from observing customer service employees over the years—and holding some of those jobs ourselves.
At the end of the day, if you think you’ve got these qualities, then the next tab you open up should be the one for a job application. Check it out:
You’re Quick On Your Feet
For one, you’re going to be moving around a lot all day, so this is a somewhat literal attribute as much as it is a popular expression. Whether you’re running plates out from the kitchen without spilling, tracking down that item across the store, or rapidly restocking while an angry mob forms behind the register, you’ll need to be quick when you’re working in customer service.
The other side of it is that you need to be quick in the way your mind works. You’ll face a lot of situations where you’ll be called to improvise, and that means you need to be quick thinking in stressful moments.
You Can Multi-Task
If someone is shouting an order at you while you’re also being barked orders from a supervisor, it’s going to be hard to concentrate on one thing, and it could make you just want to melt into a puddle and drip your way home. Be strong: learn how to multi-task and take back your solidity.
From remembering tasks like making new orders, to taking phone calls while working with physical customers, a customer service job demands you to stretch your brain further than you thought was possible. If that doesn’t sound like you, rethink customer service immediately.
You’re going to deal with a lot of difficult people, and the first thing that means is that you need to be patient. Everyone had something to gripe about, and they usually just want to be heard. If you can sit and patiently navigate a difficult conversation with a customer, you could be saving your back and your manager’s.
The other part of dealing with difficult people is that it can be hard to not “power up” when some schmuck tries to get mouthy with you. The problem is, customer service is about “service.” You aren’t there to be equals with that person, or put them in their place. They come first, and they’ll unfortunately have to deal with fixing personality issues on someone else’s time.
You’ve Got Tact
Knowing what to say and how to say it are two very different things. There are going to be countless situations where you could say something to a customer, but it probably won’t go over well for either of you. If you use the slightly wrong word, tone, or phrase, it could absolutely set them off—or simply offend them.
This isn’t an easy thing to navigate, because tact often comes naturally for some people. For those who aren’t always so tactful, there’s a good rule to heed: when in doubt, don’t.
You Like People
Just so that it’s said, the entirety of customer service is working with people. From coworkers to customers, it’s nonstop people that you need to please, and that can get tiring for some of us. Does that mean you have to be the peppiest extravert in all the land? No. Does it help if after a long day of being around people you don’t want to curl up in a ball and cry? Absolutely.
Liking people means that you’re inclined to want to understand them. It means that you’re sympathetic, and you’re eager to serve. You’ll meet a lot of interesting personalities in customer service, so be prepared to discover that the world has a lot more different people than you thought.
You’re Ready To Work
Finally, customer service is grueling. A big part of that whole “service” thing is that you’re doing a job that not everyone wants to do. Whether it’s manual labor, taking orders, or making food and drinks, you’re doing a good for society and becoming a regular part of a lot of people’s days. You could be someone’s coffee person!
Come ready to work every day with an attitude that simply wants to get the job done right. For the days where customer service gets grueling, it’s a good reminder that your responsibility is simply to do the best job that you can.