New York is a city where you can find anything.
But one of the hardest things to find is good customer service. If you work in a customer-facing job, whether in retail or dining or as an office receptionist, the best way to make yourself stand out as a great employee and prove you can handle being a manager is to give good customer service.
Here are a few rules for standing out in all the right ways:
Keep it real professional
Be the kindest, most polite version of yourself at work. People who insist they are "keeping it real" are usually just making an excuse for being rude. Regardless of how you behave at home and with friends, you should always be more professional at work. Even if you're on a break and decide to use your break time to go shopping at the store where you work, remember that you're wearing your uniform and/or name tag and that yelling at other customers will be frowned upon, whether you're on the clock that moment or not. (I'm looking at you, Phillip from the Strawberry on 14th Street.)
Remember: It isn't about you
You will undoubtedly encounter rude customers in any customer-facing job. Instinct might tell you to reprimand their behavior or insist that the customer treat you with the respect you deserve, but that instinct will only make the customer angrier, which will make you angrier, so just ignore it. You have every right to be upset, but complain to a friend after you leave work. After all, you are the one on the job right now, not the customer -- choose to be the bigger person. It can help to remember that the customer is focused on his own problem and isn't thinking about you at all. Choose not to take it personally, do the best you can with upset customers, and hope they'll be happier when they leave than when they came in. If you have no idea what to do with an upset customer, tell him or her that you'll call over your manager to see what they can do for them. Then do it. Angry customers like to feel like they're being heard, and escalating to a manager can do that.
Treat every customer like your grandmother
This means being kind and respectful, and also understanding that they might not know how things work. Be patient enough to give them extra help when needed.
What these rules of customer service really boil down to is "be polite, no matter what." It's easier said than done, but being able to keep your cool and smile through any situation is a skill that's valued in every job, from customer service to executive-level management. Master it, and the sky is the limit.
Carissa Doshi is a business writer and the president of Gen Y Media Group. She gives career advice and blogs about her experiences on www.carissadoshi.com. You can also follow @CarissaDoshi on Twitter.