10 Ways to NOT Be a Lousy Customer

If there’s one thing that I learned when working my office jobs, it’s to respect customer service reps. After spending hours and hours on the phone all different kinds of people, I understood what it’s like on the other side of a service call. I’ve always been a pretty chill, friendly person but my work experience gave me the desire to step it up when speaking with people on the phone and in person.

When you pick up the phone to pay a bill, reschedule a doctor’s appointment or troubleshoot a computer issue, you’re the one in need. When you’re paying for your groceries, getting your car washed or eating at a restaurant, you asking something of someone else. And yes, you’re paying for those services but you also have a responsibility in that exchange–the responsibility to be conscientious and respectful.  While I tried to give my best to everyone I interacted with at my job, I definitely had my favorite people who I loved to help and often went out of my way to assist. These were people who were polite, friendly, honest, and understanding.

We often complain about lousy customer service and it is definitely out there, but have you ever considered whether or not you’re a lousy customer? We don’t often think about it but customer service is a two-way street. You can’t control how other people treat you but you can certainly make an effort to do your part.

I’m going to go over 10 Ways to NOT Be a Lousy Customer on the phone or in person.

Lousy Customer


  1. Speak clearly. 

    When giving information over the phone, like an address or ID number, speak clearly and slowly. Give them time to correctly input or write down the info your giving them. I couldn’t stand it when people rattled off their phone numbers like I was supposed to be able to hear, process, and write it down in a split second. And if you’re the one taking down information, make sure and repeat it back to them to make your you got it right. And if you have an accent, be it from another American region or the other side of the globe, be aware that the other person may have trouble initially understanding you so be patient with them and don’t get angry if you’re asked to repeat yourself more than once.

  2. Don’t get frustrated when your call gets transferred.

    Unless you’re getting tossed around like a hot potato from person to person, don’t get frazzled when you get transferred. They’re just trying to get you to the person who will best help you. And when they transfer you to the new person, don’t assume they know what’s going on. Sometimes they have no clue and you have to tell your story again. Be cool, answer their questions, and let them do their job.

  3. Say please and thank you. 

    Remember the magic words you learned as a child? Yeah, they still apply. Say ‘yes, please’ and ‘no, thank you’ when asked questions. It’s like the difference between walking in wearing jeans and a t-shirt and walking in dressed in a well-tailored suit. The jeans and t-shirt may look alright but the suit, well, that’s just snazzy. People notice snazzy.

  4. Make eye contact.

    When speaking with people face to face, make eye contact. If you’re speaking to your waiter, take your nose out of your menu and actually look up and talk to him like he’s a person, not just an order-taking machine. Conversation is about making connection and one of the ways we do that is through eye contact. It helps build trust and tells the other person that you are taking them seriously and care about what they’re saying.

  5. Put your grocery cart away. 

    One of my biggest grocery store peeves is seeing shopping carts hanging out in the parking lot. Unless you need to jet off to some dire emergency, take the extra minute and put your grocery cart where it belongs. And don’t just leave it there haphazardly, nest it in with the others. My OCD self has actually straightened out crooked carts because I couldn’t get mine in. It takes a couple of minutes, your groceries will be fine. Be a dear and save the employees the headache.

  6. Put items back where you found them. 

    We teach our children this when they’re young but have you noticed how messy we grownups can be sometimes? If you’re in a waiting room, put the magazine back on the rack or table where you found it. If you’re at Walmart and you change your mind about an item, put it back on the shelf where you found it, not in another department on the other side of the store. There are times when you just have to leave something in the next convenient place but don’t make it a habit of leaving things where they’re not supposed to.

  7. Don’t be a cheap tipper. 

    Be prepared to tip well when you go out. Don’t just give the minimum across the board. If you truly weren’t satisfied with the service then just give the minimum, I think that’s our duty as customers. But if you really appreciated the service, be as generous as you can reasonably afford. And if you’re a regular at an establishment, definitely be generous with the staff because you don’t want to be the one that causes eyes to roll cause you’re known for being the cheap one.

  8. Always ask how they’re doing.

    When someone asks you how you’re going, always return the favor and ask how they’re doing. I’ve heard genuine surprise and appreciation in voices over the phone when I’ve done that which means I can only imagine how many customers never take the time to ask. Remember, you’re making a connection. That connection may only last a few minutes but go ahead and make the most of that time by being genuinely friendly. You might just make their day!

  9. Show your appreciation.

    At the end of a conversation or transaction, always, always, show your appreciation for their time. For me, it’s generally something simple like, Thanks so much for you time, I really appreciate it, have a good day! Sometimes, if someone just really did a fantastic job, I’ll lay it on thick, Thank you sooooo much, you’re a lifesaver! I really appreciate you taking the time to help me figure this out! And be appreciative even if your problem wasn’t solved. Thank them for trying and be gracious when they apologize.

  10. Don’t act entitled.

    I said earlier that people notice snazzy. Well people notice jerks too. Don’t be the jerk who acts like she’s entitled the best of everything. People who got on the phone and spoke to me like I owed them something shut me down in seconds flat. You know the kind I’m talking about. They’re the ones who go around like they own the place and when they say “jump” they expect you to ask “how high?”. Yes, you may be paying for a service but it’s the people on the other side who get to determine how well your experience is going to be. Conscientious people like doing things for conscientious people. Don’t be a jerk. Be gracious, humble, and conscientious.

There is a lot of lousy customer service out there to be sure. But don’t add to the mess and act lousy. We’re all customers, we might as well be go at it!

What are some ways you try to be a good customer/patron/patient? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

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