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I am looking for a single word or short phrase describing the people with whom one deals in everyday situations (attendants and workers in shops, hair salons, banks, bying tickets, etc.). The problem is to contrast this group of people (as a separate entity) with other groups: friends, relatives, colleagues, acquaintances, online friends.

Example made-up sentence: I find it easy speaking to my colleagues, friends, and other people I already know, but I have a problem with maintaining normal communication with Xs.

Xs - is for the term I am looking for (people serving customers in shops, malls, banks, etc.)

  • I would use the words 'personal' and 'professional' to form the divide. Some people I interact with on a personal and voluntary basis. Others - there is always a financial aspect of wages or investment involved and/or an underlying obligation on their - or my - part. Hospital staff, Police, social services, retail outlets, utility suppliers, etc etc etc. – Nigel J Apr 12 '18 at 12:30
  • Very possible duplicate of Opposite of “client”? – Arm the good guys in America Apr 12 '18 at 18:31
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The general term I would use (British English) would be Customer Assistant - in all your examplees, you are the customer and the person is assisting you.

Searching the Internet for reference usages, it seems the most commonly used phrase is the slightly longer Customer Service Assistant.

Personally, I would use the shorter version; it is less clunky and clearly understood:

I find it easy speaking to my colleagues, friends, and other people I already know, but I have a problem with maintaining normal communication with customer assistants.

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  • Thanks. As you've suggested the answer I thought of 'service people' (but it could be confused with the military - according to MerWebster). I wonder if 'service persons' sounds strange or not to a native speaker (and does it also imply the military)? – alexsms Apr 12 '18 at 13:32
  • Service persons sounds wrong to me, but I believe it is valid as a plural of service person, albeit very formal. Service personnel sounds better, but again, is closely associated with the military. – JonLarby Apr 12 '18 at 13:49

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