Author Topic: How to Respond to These Customers?  (Read 8103 times)

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violinp

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How to Respond to These Customers?
« on: August 11, 2014, 01:13:09 PM »
I work at a movie theater, mostly tearing tickets. I've gotten used to having banter and silly talk with customers, because grease on the social wheel and all that that entails. However, there are some kinds of customers that just get on my everlasting nerves:

-The ones who pretend to be irate (I can tell fake from real at this point) that they can't go back to their movie just yet, and then don't understand why I sigh and give them a sad, tired smile. "I was joking!" they cry. Yes, you were, but I've had enough people get irate for real that it's a mental reflex to prepare for drama at this point. Would it be okay to say, "Yes, I know you're joking, but I've had people actually get angry, so please don't expect me to laugh."?

-The ones who think they're clever by intentionally messing up the name of the movie they're seeing, like in the vein of "Mist of the Monkeys" for "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" (this was an actual one). This kind of thing really throws me off, because I have to try to decipher what they mean before I can even tell them whether they can go in yet. I'm usually pretty good about helping people who genuinely don't remember the name of the movie or misremember it, but those kinds of jokes short - circuit my brain long enough that it's annoying. I'm assuming I can't tell the patrons they're behaving like jerks  ;), but I'm otherwise at a loss for a response.

-The people who assume I see every movie here, since I can see them for free. First of all, no. I like my job and I love my co - workers - they are some of the nicest, sweetest people - but I want to be off on my off days (unless I really want to see a movie). Second, I don't like every movie. I'm a human being with tastes and preferences, just as everyone else is. I'm not necessarily going to enjoy a romantic comedy as much as a horror movie, for instance. I'm not going to go see every movie so I can recommend movies for patrons, as one customer suggested I do. Leaving aside the fact that I don't like or can't watch most of the most popular new movies, my whole reason for being is not to be a movie recommendation service for strangers. That's like assuming a librarian has read every book in the library at which he or she works, and that said librarian should do only that in his or her spare time, so that they can be more "helpful." I've resisted being snarky ("IMDb exists for a reason" and the ilk would be highly impolite and unprofessional, I know), but I have a hard time being patient with these types, because they assume so much about me and my free time. Any advice on how to deal with this in a short and sweet way?

There's other annoyances, but I've fortunately found ways to deal with those. These situations, however, leave me stumped, because my first response is generally to have a snappy, snarky comeback, which is neither professional nor helpful. I'd appreciate any advice you all can give.
"It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends" - Harry Potter


cicero

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Re: How to Respond to These Customers?
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2014, 01:29:55 PM »
I didn't quite understand the first scenario

for the second - I would take them at face value. just say firmly with a smile "Sorry, we don't have Mist of the Monkeys. These [point to the sign] are the movies we are showing now. Would you like to step aside while you choose? oh, you mean planet of the apes. right. two?" (this would really annoy me. my father who is 83 does this all.the.time and he doesn't understand why it's annoying. i tried to explain it to him - "dad, by the time i realize that "ax" actually is "ask", and "pisgetti" is "spaghetti" and three "watchamacallits" i have no idea whay you are trying to say".)

for the third - I would use generalizations without going into personal specifics. "oh, teens seem to love this movie". "Everyone seems to agree that the remake was much better than the original." "I just love Keanu Reeves, don't you?"

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violinp

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Re: How to Respond to These Customers?
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2014, 01:54:14 PM »
I didn't quite understand the first scenario

for the second - I would take them at face value. just say firmly with a smile "Sorry, we don't have Mist of the Monkeys. These [point to the sign] are the movies we are showing now. Would you like to step aside while you choose? oh, you mean planet of the apes. right. two?" (this would really annoy me. my father who is 83 does this all.the.time and he doesn't understand why it's annoying. i tried to explain it to him - "dad, by the time i realize that "ax" actually is "ask", and "pisgetti" is "spaghetti" and three "watchamacallits" i have no idea whay you are trying to say".)

for the third - I would use generalizations without going into personal specifics. "oh, teens seem to love this movie". "Everyone seems to agree that the remake was much better than the original." "I just love Keanu Reeves, don't you?"

This would be a conversation like that:
Me: Oh, [Movie] isn't ready yet. We'll be seating in about 10 minutes.
Patron: (pretends to throw a fit) What do you mean it's not ready?
Me: *looks at patron nervously*
Patron: Oh, I was just joking! I'll wait!

Yeah, it's annoying and mentally taxing.

With the second one: They have the tickets already, so playing dumb would just hold up the line, I think. Maybe I'm wrong, though.

With the third one: I've been trying to do stuff like that, so I guess I was on the right track.  :)
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Outdoor Girl

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Re: How to Respond to These Customers?
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2014, 01:59:59 PM »
-Would it be okay to say, "Yes, I know you're joking, but I've had people actually get angry, so please don't expect me to laugh."?  I think so.

-The ones who think they're clever by intentionally messing up the name of the movie they're seeing, like in the vein of "Mist of the Monkeys" for "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"  Play dumb.  'I'm sorry; there is no movie by that name.  May I see your ticket?

-The people who assume I see every movie here, since I can see them for free. ... That's like assuming a librarian has read every book in the library at which he or she works, and that said librarian should do only that in his or her spare time, so that they can be more "helpful."  I'd be tempted to come back with that line.  'So do you expect your librarian to have read all the books in the library so s/he can recommend something you might like to read?'  Or, 'Do you typically spend your day off at work?'

I'm probably a little snarky on the last one but that would drive me crazy.
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bah12

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Re: How to Respond to These Customers?
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2014, 02:32:14 PM »
I think that people that intentionally do annoying things are rude.  To say the wrong name of the movie when they are asking you a question or pretending to be angry may seem funny to them, but they are impeding you from doing your job properly and likely holding up a line of people behind them.  They are wrong.

It's difficult when you're in a customer service job to respond to these people as firmly as you would like.

I think you can say. "Yes, I know you're joking, but I've had people actually get angry, so please don't expect me to laugh."
And I think you can say "I'm sorry, but I/we don't make movie recommendations."
And you can say "There's a list of all of our current and upcoming movies over there.  Maybe that will jog your memory."

I don't know that these people will stop being "funny"...these are the type of people that don't really understand when humor is and isn't appropriate.

Zizi-K

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Re: How to Respond to These Customers?
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2014, 02:36:14 PM »
I think you need to embrace your inner humorless female-dog. There's no rule that says you have to be super cheery and jovial with these people. I would not smile (because that encourages people) and just be really dead-pan/borderline bored looking. "Huh?" "Sorry, I don't know which film you mean." "Sorry, can't help you with recommendations." If they go on, you can respond with a noncommittal "uh-huh." You obviously cannot prevent people from doing the things you've mentioned, but you can shorten your encounter by not explaining and not engaging past the transaction you need to accomplish.

So, I would not say "Yes, I know you're joking, but I've had people actually get angry, so please don't expect me to laugh." That is far too long, and would prompt them to respond. Just say, "ok" without smiling. This will communicate that their joke wasn't funny without encouraging any more exchange.

Yvaine

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Re: How to Respond to These Customers?
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2014, 03:18:12 PM »
Just do kind of a weak smile, or theatrically groan at their bad joke. Sometimes I even say the actual word "groan" when somebody makes a terrible joke. When I smile along with it, it tends to not offend people.

Hillia

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Re: How to Respond to These Customers?
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2014, 04:05:29 PM »
I don't think most of these people are deliberately being annoying.   They are, but it's out of thoughtlessness.  They think that they have come up with an original witty comment, and they're engaging in fun chat with you.  My DH worked in retail for many years, and to this day will froth at the mouth at 'Won't scan?  That means it's free!  Ha ha ha!'.  But he smiled weakly at every customer who said it, whether they were the first or the 100th that day.

I'm not saying you have to play along, and certainly not allow bad jokes to inconvenience other patrons by taking your time.  I think many of the proposed reponses border on the snarky, and would give me the impression of an unfriendly atmosphere,  Jokes can get a thin smile and no response, requests for revies/recommendations can get 'Sorry, I haven't seen that one', or even 'sorry, I don't watch many movies'.  But as a customer-facing employee, it's part of your job to be friendly and welcoming even when you're annoyed.

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camlan

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Re: How to Respond to These Customers?
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2014, 04:27:28 PM »
[
This would be a conversation like that:
Me: Oh, [Movie] isn't ready yet. We'll be seating in about 10 minutes.
Patron: (pretends to throw a fit) What do you mean it's not ready?
Me: *looks at patron nervously*
Patron: Oh, I was just joking! I'll wait!

Yeah, it's annoying and mentally taxing.



For this one, I wouldn't say that the movie is not ready yet. Go with something like: "We will start seating this showing of [insert name of movie] in 10 minutes. You can wait over there or buy a snack while you wait."

"What do you mean I have to wait?" (Whether the customer is joking or not.)

"The theater won't be ready for 10 minutes. You can wait over there."
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


Yvaine

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Re: How to Respond to These Customers?
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2014, 04:30:00 PM »
[
This would be a conversation like that:
Me: Oh, [Movie] isn't ready yet. We'll be seating in about 10 minutes.
Patron: (pretends to throw a fit) What do you mean it's not ready?
Me: *looks at patron nervously*
Patron: Oh, I was just joking! I'll wait!

Yeah, it's annoying and mentally taxing.



For this one, I wouldn't say that the movie is not ready yet. Go with something like: "We will start seating this showing of [insert name of movie] in 10 minutes. You can wait over there or buy a snack while you wait."

"What do you mean I have to wait?" (Whether the customer is joking or not.)

"The theater won't be ready for 10 minutes. You can wait over there."

"You don't want to spoil the ending for yourself, do you?"

SingActDance

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Re: How to Respond to These Customers?
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2014, 06:43:30 PM »
For the third scenario, while I agree you don't have to see every movie, I think you should have a basic knowledge of all the movies showing. I do box office work myself, and while I don't see every company/piece we present, everyone who works in the box office is expected to be able to speak to the general tone/content and guide patrons to shows they'd be interested in. It's good for business, and it's good customer service.
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violinp

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Re: How to Respond to These Customers?
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2014, 06:58:25 PM »
For the third scenario, while I agree you don't have to see every movie, I think you should have a basic knowledge of all the movies showing. I do box office work myself, and while I don't see every company/piece we present, everyone who works in the box office is expected to be able to speak to the general tone/content and guide patrons to shows they'd be interested in. It's good for business, and it's good customer service.

I do know, and make it my business to know about the content. It's that they say, "Have you seen this movie yet?" as if I will see it eventually because it's there to be watched. It does make me giggle when they ask that of a movie that's only been out two days, though - as if I would want to brave opening night crowds when I work there to see a movie just because it's new and shiny (plus we're not allowed to, per employee policy, but I don't feel as if going into the employee code of conduct is beneficial for our interaction).
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Re: How to Respond to These Customers?
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2014, 07:39:43 PM »
For the third scenario, while I agree you don't have to see every movie, I think you should have a basic knowledge of all the movies showing. I do box office work myself, and while I don't see every company/piece we present, everyone who works in the box office is expected to be able to speak to the general tone/content and guide patrons to shows they'd be interested in. It's good for business, and it's good customer service.

I do know, and make it my business to know about the content. It's that they say, "Have you seen this movie yet?" as if I will see it eventually because it's there to be watched. It does make me giggle when they ask that of a movie that's only been out two days, though - as if I would want to brave opening night crowds when I work there to see a movie just because it's new and shiny (plus we're not allowed to, per employee policy, but I don't feel as if going into the employee code of conduct is beneficial for our interaction).

Maybe I'm missing the tone, but I don't think asking the person from whom you are buying the tickets if they have seen the movie is all that weird. Is it the addition of "yet" to the end that bugs you? Or do they act shocked when you say that you haven't? I'm just trying to understand where your frustration is coming from.   Unless the person is being rude or pushy, I think your best bet is just to respond "Nope! Not yet.  But I've heard it's good" or something equally noncommittal.
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Lady Snowdon

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Re: How to Respond to These Customers?
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2014, 08:17:35 PM »
For the third scenario, while I agree you don't have to see every movie, I think you should have a basic knowledge of all the movies showing. I do box office work myself, and while I don't see every company/piece we present, everyone who works in the box office is expected to be able to speak to the general tone/content and guide patrons to shows they'd be interested in. It's good for business, and it's good customer service.

I do know, and make it my business to know about the content. It's that they say, "Have you seen this movie yet?" as if I will see it eventually because it's there to be watched. It does make me giggle when they ask that of a movie that's only been out two days, though - as if I would want to brave opening night crowds when I work there to see a movie just because it's new and shiny (plus we're not allowed to, per employee policy, but I don't feel as if going into the employee code of conduct is beneficial for our interaction).

For this, I would come up with a stock response of your own that you can say back to them, like, "No, my tracking bracelet shocks me if I get too close to the actual theater!".  That's lame, but something that you can say with a smile, so that their desire for social interaction is satisfied.

I have never heard anyone trying to come up with alternate names for movies, so I'm still a little stuck on the fact that people do so!  My inner snarky voice is suggesting you say, "Huh?  But monkeys aren't apes!", but that probably wouldn't go over well.  I might just smile and say, "I'm sorry, can you please read off the name as it's listed on the board?  I don't recognize all the nicknames yet!".

Arila

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Re: How to Respond to These Customers?
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2014, 08:22:34 PM »
I don't think they are trying to be annoying, I think they are trying to engage. I asked a friend once who worked in the service industry how they could handle the monotony of the same question over and over many times a day, every day. He said, "For me, it's the millionth time, for them it's the first time. I have to treat each one like the first one."

Each interaction with each customer has to be looked at freshly. So the guys pretending to be irate, they are just making a joke, and maybe it was funny the first time, it's just not in aggregate. Same with the clever re-naming. I personally would endeavor to re-frame my internal response to these types of occurrences. For the first, if you are sure that you can tell when they are joking, you can tell them, "Haha. Please wait over there until the theater is available. Next!" If you can't tell, then just immediately offer whatever customer service escalation is available for them, "Oh, would you like to speak to a manager? I can go and get that person for you right now." if they then respond they were just joking, then you can give them a bit of a flat "Oh. Ok then. Please wait over there until 15 minutes before show time." For the clever names, I would just check the tickets when you are tearing them, so then you don't need to ask them at all what they are seeing. Your own private cheat-sheet.

I like both of the previous responses about seeing every movie - the librarian one, and the "would you go to work on your day off?" one.