The Lessons Of Fandom: Customer Service

So last week we discussed how fandom teaches you good business sense, one of those useful "general skills" you'll need in your life.  This week we'll explore another thing fandom teaches you.

Customer Service.

As I noted previously, many fandom activities are run like businesses – conventions, websites, etc.   They may not make money, of course – they may not be intended to – but they are like businesses in almost all regards.  Thus they are very educational to work on because you learn good business sense.

Businesses, of course, have customers, and in these "semi-businesses" you have to deal with them.  That is very educational, even if your "business" is occasionally doing fanart requests.

If you have customers, you've probably learned a few lessons about customer service:

  1. You've learned how to take requests and follow up on them (and what happens when you don't).
  2. You've learned to deal with difficult people (and how difficult people can be).
  3. You've learned how to manage your reputation with customers.
  4. You've learned about the impact of your action – and lack of actions – on customers.
  5. You've learned about the psychological impact customers have on you – good and bad.

You've doubtlessly learned quite a bit about serving customers in your fannish, geeky, and otaku activities.  Not all these lessons may be pleasant, but they are there.

If you haven't learned any "customer service" skills from your fannish and hobby activities, maybe it's time to push yourself and try a little more "customer contact."  If you find it's not you, then you can stop it – one of the advantages of fandom is its more forgiving than a full job.

Take a moment to review your knowledge of "customer service" from your hobbies.  You've probably learned more than you realize – and ask yourself how you could apply this to your career, and perhaps pitch it in a cover letter or on an interview.

– Steven Savage