If you scroll down the pages of a job search website you will be surprised by the number of jobs you will find under the customer service section. We all are customers at some point, and we all have to provide some customer service to others in one way or another. Although to be nice to people is considered a norm in society, this becomes truer if you work in a context where you have to be nice to people to earn your living.
As an anarchist I believe that it is through customer service, the obligation of being nice to clients in every circumstance and at any cost, that capitalism has managed to have workers enslaved by other workers: we all expect to be treated nicely as customers and we may feel upset if we’re not. Few of us will go as far as making a formal complaint to the company or manager either in person or via email. We may have received the service we asked for but if this did not match the manners we expected you can be sure that a worker will be in trouble.
Writing in 1979 Arlie Russell Hochschild wrote a book on the commercialisation of human feelings entitled ‘The Managed Heart’ where she argues on the manipulation of feelings to please a profit making system. My idea is that the more we move away from the original meaning of the word ‘work’, that is to craft goods and services for real needs, the more we see feelings and attitude replacing those needs. The problem for the worker becomes how to create and sustain the appropriate feeling in order to keep an income.
Obviously customer care is not good for workers as their personality is crashed by the needs of capitalism. Is it perhaps good for customers? It isn’t good for them either as in turn they will have to perform the same show somewhere else to earn their living. Costumer care is only good for corporations, chains and money making establishments that by imposing a code of conduct intend to control your behaviour and preserve their income.
I would call for an act of daily disobedience that would mean to resist this servitude of the masses: stop expecting good customer service and only give it in proportion to your mood and personality.