So I’ve been shopping for the kiddo for back to school and for some job interview clothes in the last few weeks and one thing that has been driving me NUTS is the lack of Customer Service and character that people working retail have now days. I’m not painting EVERYONE with the same brush here, there were a couple gems in the pool, but the majority of the people I encountered were HORRIFIC!
People talk in monotone, roll your stuff up in a ball, or just hand you your items back one at a time for you to bag* it, tell you the total, and IF we were EXTREMELY lucky, we get a bland “Have a Good Day” while their attention was already on the next person in line.
Here are a few tips that I offer to the public, and those who work in retail.
1. Whether you work at Macy’s, Kohl’s, Sears, Nordstrom, The Gap, Lane Bryant, Ross, Marshalls, Piggly Wiggly, or Goodwill, when we buy clothing there is NO reason, I repeat NO REASON AT ALL, for you to ball it up in a clump and hand it to US to put in our reusable bags. NONE! Fold the newly purchased item NICELY and place it into our bags for us. I don’t care if they are a $4 pair of sweats or a $30 pair of jeans or a $100 jacket. Fold the items nicely, and place them in the bag for your customer.
2. FOCUS ON THE CUSTOMER! Do NOT under any circumstances, carry on a conversation with the other clerks about what you are doing on your break, lunch, before or after work, or who you had coitus (thank you Big Bang Theory for brining that word into my regularly used vocabulary) with last night. These are discussions to have with your co-workers (if you MUST share them) during said breaks.
3. It is called a SMILE. Whether it’s fake or real, it doesn’t matter. When dealing with a customer you should ALWAYS be nice, courteous, and have a smile on your face. It gives the illusion you actually care that we are spending our money so the company can give you your pay check. Plus, putting on a smile will actually make you feel better, even when you rather be lying in bed. I don’t care if you think you are underpaid. If you don’t treat me like you want my money, then guess what you are OVERPAID.
4. Learn to talk on the phone professionally. This is a concept that actually should start at home with your kids. ( Please don’t take this as me telling you how to raise your kids. I will never do that. ) I think generally as society, we have lost the ability to speak professionally on the phone. At work I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called places and literally got a “Yo!” or an exasperated voice on the other end telling me the company I’ve called, like I’ve interrupted their lunch or something. Don’t talk to other people while you’re on the phone with a customer or client, unless you are asking about their specific matter. Heck, most phones have a hold button, where you can put them on hold while you discuss their specific matter with someone else even.
5. This one is mainly directed toward Ross stores. When checking people out at your register, please don’t call the next person in line until you are finished with your current customer. Seriously, talk about feeling rushed or instantly forgotten. The last few times I’ve been in there, my receipt hasn’t even finished printing or my payment hasn’t gone through yet and they are calling the next person over in line. Your trying not to let the line get long, or if it is long, your trying to get customers through quickly and efficiently, but lets not do it and forgo customer service.
I’ve worked retail. I know it’s stressful at times, companies ask for miracles, and there are pressures to sell things that you may not necessarily want to sell to customers. I get it. In today’s economy, you’re lucky to have a job, so please, act like you want to be there for the customer and it is not JUST a paycheck, even if it is.
I mentioned above that not everyone was horrific, that there were a few gems. For instance, we were in Kohls and a pair of pants we liked didn’t have a price on it, and we couldn’t find its original home. The store manager was talking with an associate, and when we walked up, and waited a minute ( to give him time to finish his conversation. I don’t mind waiting for a minute if they are gonna be quick. ). The associate actually stopped mid-sentence, and with a smile asked if we had a question. He was wonderful. He even joked around with us for a minute, helped us out, and then returned to finish their discussion. There was also another lady who was either just coming in for work, or break, whatever. My friend and I couldn’t find a register, and she overheard us say, “Man, I wish we could find a register. There must be one of here.” She stopped and gave us directions to the registers. She didn’t need to do it, but she did. However at checkout we encountered some of the above mentioned issues, ie: balled up clothing and talking to the other clerk instead of paying attention to us.
Because I have worked in retail, I’m a stickler for customer service. Even when I order pizza on the phone for delivery, if someone has good phone skills, I will complement you on it. I’ve even been known to call back and ask for a manager to tell them that they have a good employee. I’ll dish out the complements, but you have to earn them.
So is Customer Service even a thing anymore, or when we go shopping, should we just EXPECT to be treated like dirt?
* In our area most cities have enacted an ordinance whereby you need to bring your own bags into the store or you can buy a paper bag for X pennies ( Monterey is 20₵, Capitola is 25₵, etc. ). It is all in an effort to “GET GREEN” so they say, and reduce the amount of plastic waste being dumped, or at least they say. /eye roll While I have no problem with that at all, in fact I’m all for having people use reusable bags, it appears that clerks have gotten lazy in the bagging department.