The Dark Side of Customer Service

Curious about how the person on the other side of the counter feels about serving you? Maybe you’ve been on the other side yourself and want to see your feelings put into words?

Malled recounts Caitlin Kelly’s adventures in retail. She was “between jobs” at the start of the recent recession and decided to take a job as a clerk in a clothing store. She quickly learned how different it feels to be on the other side of the customer service counter, or the “wrap” as it’s known to insiders. Kelly holds a mirror up to our society of consumers. She asks questions that make you think about your own behavior and expectations in retail establishments. You may also begin to question the behavior we seem to accept from large corporations. Kelly manages to integrate some of what she learned into her life after retail.

My Korean Deli addresses retail on a much smaller scale. The author, Ben Howe, and his wife purchased a small convenience store for his mother-in-law to run. Howe was born into a family already living the American dream. But his wife’s family hails from Korea and is still chasing the dream. The whole family becomes, by necessity, involved in running the store. It quickly turns into a life of nonstop, backbreaking labor and constant worry. They deal with eccentric and sometimes dangerous customers and employees as well as seemingly absurd regulations. If you think working together as a family would bring you closer, this book will make you think again.

If you don’t have a customer service background, Malled and My Korean Deli provide great insight into what the people who serve you are exposed to day in and day out. Both books can help strengthen a feeling of solidarity if you are already steeped in the world of customer service.

 Kathy

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