How To: Survive Retail (Employee’s Edition)

Hey Everyone! So today I was walking around this beautiful mall in central Florida and over heard customers yelling at some employee and it made me think of all the times my boyfriend and I have had customers yell at us while we were working. That being said, me and my boyfriend came up with a few ways to survive the day without ripping someone a new one, so we thought to share these tips with all of you retail workers!

First off never, and I mean NEVER take anything a customer says to heart unless it’s a compliment. Chances are that person has a ton of other things going on so they are crabby and if the register shuts down or the item they need is not in stock they will be a little touchy and start to yell. They will lash out and say mean things but most of the time they will never mean it. That said if the get out of hand never hesitate to call your manager because you definitely don’t get paid enough to take that much crap from a disgruntled customer. Though when calling a manger don’t come off rude because then a customer can easily make you seem like the bad guy and get you written up.

Second, take deep breaths whenever possible. You see I worked at Walmart so I know it is not just the customers that get to you, it’s also your co-workers and managers. It’s easy to want to blow up and confront someone but you shouldn’t do that because no-matter how much you think you hate your job, endless you have a better offer right then and there, chances are you need this job and getting fired wouldn’t be good. I remember once I had two managers who were pulling me every which way, out of my department and making any task impossible to complete. I took a deep breath though and realized that pulling me from my department was something that they were not allowed to do. I also knew though, that other managers wouldn’t back me up. Thinking clearly because of the deep breaths made me and my fellow associates realize that we could file a complaint to our ethics department to get things fixed. Deep breaths help you think with a clear head thus preventing all of us from blowing up and possibly being reprimanded.

Third, learn how to work the system from the inside so that you dodge irritating customers as much as possible. My boyfriend learned to do this after one encounter with a particular frustrating customer. As you all know there are copyright laws that state any reproduction of photos, media, movies, etc… must have a release form stating that you have the rights to reproduce the items that you want. All of this is stated in our terms and conditions when printing out photos at the store. A terms and conditions that the customer must acknowledge before being able to print out their photos. Well this particular customer might have acknowledged the terms and conditions but didn’t actually read them. They printed out professionally taken photos that they paid a professional photographer for. Thus meaning in order for the company to release them those photos they needed to provide a physical copyright release form. unfortunately this customer did not have a release form meaning he could not give them their photos. This, as you can probably guess pissed the customer off badly. The way out of this situation though was to explain why they can’t have their photos and if that doesn’t work simply to call a manager over to tell the customer what happened with the photos. You can then avoid the entire confrontation and get out of there.

Lastly learn how to fake it till you make it. You will have days where you are pissed off and hate everything but you can’t bring that to work with you. You have to smile and be polite until then end of your shift. If you can’t do a real smile then learn to fake the best one you have. You may not like it but keeping up appearances is also part of your job as a retail associate. Whether you work in JC Penney, Wal-Mart, Victoria’s Secret, or Michael Kors your job is to keep the customer happy while keeping your sanity. You have to learn to put on a smile and keep other people happy even if you’re not happy.

All that said for those of you who work retail I hope you’ve learned a little bit about how to survive it. I know it’s not easy, but no job ever is.


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