Kimmel: Service with a smile, but only if you earn it

Tips for an optimal visit to CWRU housing offices

Wade Commons and Fribley Commons can be mysterious places. (What’s going on behind those shelves of packages? Murder? Probably.)

Before I started working as a Customer Service Assistant (CSA) in the offices, I definitely had no idea how they worked. And looking back, I was often super rude in my ignorance. Having now been on both sides of the desk/phone/, I have some tips for students who want to be nice to their friendly local CSAs.

1. Don’t come in to check for a package. If you’ve gotten an email from the mail carrier or Amazon, that means that either the package is in a truck somewhere in Cleveland or it’s in our office. If it is in our office, though, that doesn’t mean it’s ready to be picked up. For liability reasons and because you would not be happy if your packages were always getting taken by other people before you can get there to pick them up, we have to log every package (enter it into the HARLD computer program and print a label). If you need to know whether a package is logged for you, just check Chances are you have a phone with internet, so if you just check on your phone then you don’t have to wait in line and we can just focus on getting all those packages logged.

2. While we’re on the subject of packages, please take the time to address them correctly. We need your full name as it appears in HARLD and your building and room number in order to verify that the package is yours. If you provide less information, it’s much more likely that we won’t be able to identify the package as yours, and it might even get returned to sender. As a bonus, you should also consider including your Case ID (abc123) after your name; for common names especially, this helps us log your packages quickly and without extra sleuthing.

3. Remember phone etiquette. First, don’t come up to the desk while you’re on your phone. Most of you have the good sense not to do this, but for the rest of you: please stop, it’s rude. Second, if you call the offices, please still be nice. I understand that most people who call Wade or Fribley do so while very frustrated, but if you approach the situation calmly and just explain simply what the problem is, we’ll be much more able to help you quickly and efficiently.

4. Respect the CSAs’ space. One simple way that you can do this is by asking before you borrow something. If you need a pen or some scissors from behind the desk, ask the CSA if you may take one. This is our office space, and we’re being held responsible for keeping everything in it in it, so please just run it by us first. Just as important but much more frequently disregarded, is that you need to wait to swipe your card for a package, until the CSA is ready. When you swipe your card, you pull up a new window in HARLD, right over whatever we were busy working on. If the CSA doesn’t immediately ask you how they can help you (which they usually will), then you can politely get their attention with an “excuse me” or just wait a minute. I promise we will be with you shortly.

5. Don’t expect us to bend the rules for you. Yes, I know that you’re not actually trying to steal your friend’s package when you bring in their ID to pick it up. I also understand that you meant no harm when you lugged in that tub full of Dum Dums to be individually logged as special packages for every CWRU undergrad. And those people asking to be let into your room with the dolly of boxes probably are your parents. However we have to enforce these rules universally. We can’t make exceptions, no matter how much we believe you.

While these are pretty Wade/Fribley-specific, they also apply to any situation where you’re interacting with someone who is being paid to help you. In all sorts of retail situations, and any time you have to talk to customer service at a company, you’re basically dealing with me. And I am a person. So please don’t be mean or rude.

Customer service workers don’t make the rules, and we don’t decide how short-staffed we should be on any given day. It can be hard to judge when you’ve crossed the line with a customer service worker, because at many companies (luckily not so much at CWRU) they’re not allowed to defend themselves or tell you off when you’re behaving unacceptably.

So just be nice.

Aquene Kimmel is a second-year English major.