Going Going Gone

I consider myself an average consumer/shopper.  I often find myself in a grocery store on an evening after work or rushing to find a shirt or pants for something I didn’t realize had a special dress code for my children.  I worked retail for many years so I understand both sides of the counter.  It’s a rough job to sit behind the counter when customers are being unreasonable or are unhappy about something that the cashier can’t fix.  But, I want to talk about both being a customer service person and receiving customer service and how it affects where I shop and what I buy.

Last night I had to run to the grocery store.  I was making enchiladas, but the kids had eaten some of the cheese I needed so I hopped in the car and drove to the grocery store.  I grabbed the cheese and went to get in line.  I find the store line choosing difficult.  It’s stressful because the shortest line doesn’t always mean the shortest wait.  Still, I chose to get in the shortest line.  The line didn’t move for a few minutes so I leaned out of line and looked ahead.  A young guy was standing at the front talking to the young female cashier.  She was laughing and alternately patting and flipping her hair.  No items were being rung up.  I kept watching and started listening.  I realized they were both speaking Spanish.  They finally exchanged numbers, a few more compliments and then he left.  I stood there wondering when such behavior became acceptable?  Not one person in line said a word.  Instead they all just stood there waiting.  One thing is sure – even though this store is close to my home – I won’t go back.  I don’t have that kind of time to waste.

The situation got me thinking of other poor customer service moments I’ve had.  I remembered when I went to the grocery store while I was pregnant with my oldest.  I was standing in line, and when I finally got to the front of the line the woman was filing her nails.  I thought it was odd, but I stood waiting.  She didn’t make eye contact until I finally cleared my throat.  She looked at me and said “I’m on break.”  What the heck!?!  No warning?  No telling me to move to another line?  I left that store that day and have never gone back.

I am sure that there are people who are more reasonable than me.  They understand that people have bad days.  They give the benefit of the doubt that the store doesn’t hire 100% of the same people.  But, because I worked retail I understand what’s involved and I know that the plan for each store’s employees is the same.  CUSTOMER IS KING.

When I worked retail we had some crazy situations happen.  I can remember working the cash register and having a guy come in to return some clothes.  It was a woman’s clothing store so that was slightly out of the ordinary.   I smiled and greeted him.  He plopped the clothes down on the counter and the smell of cigarette smoke hit me in the face.  I didn’t react and instead said “Do you have your receipt?”  He did and he handed it to me.  I noticed the tags were missing, but he had those in his pocket as well.  So, I went through the return process and when I asked him why he was returning them he said “Well, I went out last night and spent all our money so I need to get some cash.”  I really didn’t know how to respond.  The pants were obviously worn.  I turned and looked at the supervisor who had walked up behind me and she shrugged.  I went ahead I returned the pants and gave him his cash.

There are so many stories from both side of the fence that can be shared.  But, the point really is that poor customer service causes customers to leave.  They simply don’t come back to your store.  And, the truth is – it’s farther than that.  They tell their friends, their family, and everyone on their Facebook hears about it.  So, as a customer – keep your stores doing what they should be doing.  As a employee, keep your customers coming back.

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