My first job when I got out of college was a retail job (I will write another post about my job search experience). It was my first customer services experience. Although I was in retail for barely a year, there were still valuable lessons I learned that changed my life in a positive way.
The biggest change that affects my life was my communication skills. I used to not know how to talk to strangers and always felt a bit awkward when I was in a place where I didn't know anyone. However, working in customer services really made me come out of my shell. I've learned to make small talks with customers when ringing them out at the register. Also, I noticed that after having this experience, when there comes a time that I had to talk in public, I get a lot less nervous than before. Of course, I still don't like public speaking, but I feel that I can handle it better now.
At where I worked, I was required to always greet customers when they come in, ask if they need any assistance, and of course, smile when I was doing the other two. So smiling became a habit. Even when I'm off work and went to the grocery store, I would smile at people who I made eye contact with and say hi to them sometimes (now that I'm thinking about it, I'm actually really glad that I didn't ask them if they're finding anything okay...). By doing this, I feel that I became friendlier than before. This small change actually had a very positive turnout. People would give me a smile back. When you're friendly to others, most of the time the other people would treat you the same way. And you never know, your little nice gesture might make someone else's day.
The last change that influenced me was my problem-solving skills. When you're dealing with customers, you usually don't have too much time to think when a problem arises; you have to react quickly. When I was in a situation like this, even if I didn't know the answer, I still have to act fast. A lot of the times I had to use my best judgment to resolve the issue when following the company policy. However, if something happened that was beyond what I could do, I had to make sure that I reached out to the management as soon as possible. And now, I'm able to react quickly and stay calm when facing a challenge, even when I'm not in retail.
Working in retail or any kind of customer services environment requires much more than what I mentioned above. These three things are what I feel that make positive changes in my life, and I will always cherish everything I learned from this experience.