You have to be a good blend of cheesy and genuine. People want someone with whom they can joke around so they don’t have to feel bad about spending money, or that they’re out buying stuff while you’re working a crap customer service job, or so that at least one part of their day can be quick and easy and maybe even enjoyable. They want someone who is going to be cheerful and perky but who can empathize with their problems. Because they will tell you their problems, whether you like it or not. But that’s part of the job; you’re there to be whatever they need at that moment. Not that you’ll always be able to provide that particular service. Sometimes you have to know when to just step back and get that customer out as quickly as possible so you can wave goodbye to them and that chip on their shoulder as they walk out the front door.
Nothing is ever their fault so if they take forever finding their credit card you are nothing but smiles, and if they are rude to you for no reason you apologize and keep smiling and hopefully glaze over it. You definitely need to be able to turn on that smile on a moment’s notice. Sometimes you’ll need to make up for the mistakes of others, whether it is your customer, your coworker, or the manufacturer of whatever your customer is purchasing. You’re the last person your customer will interact with before leaving the store, so pressure’s on to make a good lasting impression.
You need to have all the answers. Doesn’t matter if they are 100% true, you just need to sound plausible and knowledgeable enough to handle the situation. People assume you are privy to all sorts of information that you are of course not, so you need to know how to talk your way out. If it is actually something you don’t know a thing about it’s probably best to hand it off to someone else like your manager or someone, but a good cashier will do everything she can to handle a situation herself and move on to the next sale.
Speed and efficiency are essential. People want someone who is patient, but who zips them through the line as fast as possible. You have to be a really good bagger/packer. It’s a lot like a puzzle; you’re constantly thinking about how to be the most efficient with your time and theirs and with how to best bag their stuff while simultaneously being charming and friendly and interested in their lives. I assume it’s a lot like waitressing, but I’ve never been a waitress so I wouldn’t know.
You have to love people. You have to be able to appreciate the little things and let the shitty things roll off your back.
A lot of times I think people underestimate the difficulty of cashiering, but it really is pretty complex if you care enough to do it right. And I consider myself a damn good cashier who for some reason cares about doing it right more than I probably should. (Ironically I called in sick to work today and now I am blogging instead of sleeping. Oops!)
In addition, here are sixteen other assorted skills I have picked up in life:
- how to make balloon animals
- how to fold fancy dinner napkins (although I may have forgotten how to do that by now)
- how not to whistle
- how to make homemade mac&cheese, applesauce, and greeting cards.
- how to dance around a difficult subject
- how to get right to the point
- how to say goodbye
- how to hold a grudge
- how to critique a work of art
- how to critique a movie
- how to tie a tie (I promptly forget this every time someone teaches me, as with the Electric Slide)
- how to take a shot (I have yet to master that with grace)
- how to talk about gender and race (and how not to talk about it)
- how to manage my money
- how to make a cup of coffee (I don’t guarantee its quality, however)
- how to laugh loudly and genuinely