I work for a roadside assistance company. Instead of dealing with people face-to-face as I have for all of my other customer service jobs (hello, Barista Mimi!), I have to talk to people over the phone.
Working with customers over the phone actually has a lot in common with doing it in person. People aren’t always happy when you help them. In the barista world, some people are excited about their coffee break. But others are stressed and short-tempered. With my roadside assistance job, people are often upset because they have a flat tire or they locked their keys in the car.
One thing that’s consistent with both jobs is how I’ve adapted to make my dyslexia work to my advantage.
I don’t always have the best audio comprehension. Working with spoken numbers can be hard for me—for example, taking cash from the register to give someone change, or taking credit card numbers over the phone. Some days I’m really on point with it, but even on my “good” days, I can still slip up. It can get frustrating, so I’ve created a strategy to make it easier on myself.
When I get a customer giving me credit card information over the phone, I ask them to give me the information in sets of four—for example, 8743 0321 7593 9884. Trying to get all 16 digits at once can trip me up.
But if I get the information in sets of four, I get little breaks to make sure the numbers are correct. After I receive all the information, I ask them if it’s OK if I repeat it all back to them to confirm it. Then once it’s all clear, I submit it and we move on.
Not all of the customers or roadside technicians who work with me respond positively to this at first. But when I say I’m dyslexic, they change their tune—and the transactions move much smoother because of it.
Being open about my learning difference makes things easier for me and for others. Give it a shot! See what happens, and move forward knowing you may be helping more people than yourself.