It seems as though the general population thinks that they can treat small business owners and employees differently and I'm not entirely sure why. Perhaps when you're working for a large corporation, you don't make the rules. When all else fails and something is going wrong with a customer you have "the man upstairs" to blame. You can just say "Sorry, but that's company policy. My hands are tied! Blah, blah, blah." But when you're getting crap from a customer and the business is YOU (or a very small group of people), what do you say? If someone doesn't like a rule or a policy, the only one standing in the way is YOU. It's a rule YOU created. So you're left standing there vulnerable with no response other than "because that's how I choose to do things." And really, what kind of argument is that? Certainly one that's valid, but the crabby customer is not going to agree with that.
I don't know how many people actually read this, but, if anyone out there is paying any attention at all, I have a few simple requests for when you or anyone you know is dealing with a small business.
1) I do not have to jump through hoops for you. Yes, customer service is ALWAYS the #1 priority, but I find many people think customer service is interchangeable with being your slave. Let me just say that I have about 6 jobs. That is not an exaggeration. I have 6 jobs. And in all of them, I usually encounter at least 1 person a month that thinks because I am in a customer service position, I am not allowed to have a life and I should drop everything I am doing to do whatever they want me to do. I am a human being.
2) Sometimes you don't understand how things work. Especially doing things in an artistic capacity, people have no understanding of how things are made, how things work, how long custom artwork actually takes me, how long it takes to fire up a kiln, how I go about procuring supplies, etc, etc. Let me just say that 3 of my jobs involve working with ceramic in some way. A kiln takes about 24 hours from start to finish if it is allowed to fire up and cool down properly. That doesn't include custom artwork, glazing, or any organizational tasks that need to be done along with that. And yet there is always someone at one of the two ceramic studios I currently work for who thinks that my inability to rush something in 8 hours is a personal choice I am making to upset them. That's simply not the case. Sometimes there are factors that keep you from even being totally unable to help a customer in the way that they want.
3) Everyone is allowed to make mistakes. I know that my job is usually to supply a satisfactory product, but sometimes things happen. Ceramic breaks, the post office loses a parcel, cyberspace eats an important e-mail, I oversleep, a kiln functions improperly. Stuff happens and THAT'S OKAY. I wish I could play flashbacks of all the times someone else has screwed up every time they give me that look like I'm the biggest idiot in the world as if they have never done anything wrong.
Despite my frustrations, I love what I do. I work with kids, I make jewelry, I play with toys, I paint, I help plan fun events, and its all (mostly) awesome. Sometimes I just wish the average person was a bit more understanding or least more polite.