This might not come as a surprise to you, but some people don't think return policies apply to them and their purchases. These people aren't kings, queens or celebrities; these are average people masquerading as lunatics who threaten bodily harm over batteries and video games.
Before working in customer service, I naively thought that nothing could be simpler than a return policy. What a silly fool I was. Most people wouldn't see the "maybes" or "sometimes" written in the average return policy, but it's slyly hidden. It's written in imaginary ink in a lost language called "crazy", and if you're thinking about a job in customer service, you better learn to speak crazy.
Simply put, there wasn't one. That's not to say that I didn't ever interview with the company, I did. For most companies, working as a customer service representative is seen as a promotion. Often one starts as a cashier or team member, and then as positions become available, the most tenured or capable person is promoted into the more formal role of "customer service representative."
This was true for the company I worked for. One day I came to work as a cashier and a customer service representative didn't show up for their shift, so my interview consisted of "Hey do you want to try this?" Heck yes I did.
There really is no book you can read to train you to be a customer service representative. Sure you can learn the processes, but since every scenario is unique, a theoretical knowledge of customer service just won't do. The majority of my training consisted of shadowing more tenured co-workers. I learned the basic procedures quickly, and the rest is just something you pick up along the way.
The actual job
Probably 50 percent of the job consists of making exceptions to the return policy. Some of those exceptions are your call: "I bought this pack of batteries 31 days ago and it isn't opened, can I return it? Pretty please?" Some of the exceptions are things you'll have to get a manager involved in: "I bought this plasma TV six years ago and it doesn't work anymore, this is your fault, return it" (true story).
The best part
You might expect that the best part of working in customer service is the customers. Not all of the customers, mind you, (see below) but some of them are great. Customers who understood that an exception was being made and are grateful for it are always pleasant to be around. Occasionally you'll have customers you can help out of a real bind (like getting a college student a new laptop during finals week). For a brief moment, you’re their hero – and it’s pretty cool.
The worst part
It shouldn't be a stretch of the imagination that the worst part of working in customers is angry customers. You'd be surprised not just by what they'll get mad about, but exactly how angry they get. It's a weird combination of scary and sad that someone will threaten bodily harm because a consumer electronics gadget is no longer functioning years after it was purchased. Police were called more than once to the store where I worked over things that just simply didn't matter. We're not talking about life or death, we're talking about iPods and DVDs, but some people just lose perspective. When they do, it's your job to bring them back down to earth – gently and with a smile, and if you do it well you can change their perspective of the company you work for, forever. Not sure how to do it? Check out tips for dealing with difficult customers.