Customer Service Ain’t Rocket Science

Ok, I’m going to rag on the lowly clerks who work at retail stores, so if that offends you, please feel free to stop reading.

But I’m not going to blame them entirely.

Yesterday, I went to buy some shoes. I was feeling kinda crappy anyway, having one of those days where everything annoyed me and probably didn’t want to be there. So my dear husband and I ventured to a store downtown known for inexpensive sports shoes (note, this is not Payless!! They sell crap I won’t even touch much less pay for) to find me a simple pair of running shoes.

We enter the store and head for the shoe wall. We passed 3 employees without a single on of them making eye contact. We perused the shoe wall for about 5 minutes trying to find something I liked and finally found a pair. There was a bored looking girl leaning against the pillar about 5 feet away so Chris asked her for a size 10 in this style. She made eye contact with him, but as I watched, she actually rolled her eyes, looked bored, whispered something and wandered off.

Chris headed off to look at shorts or t-shirts while I waited in the shoe department, looking at other options in case these didn’t work out. A minute later, I notice she’s holding up the wall again. I assumed (wrongly) that someone else (taller?) was finding the shoes for her. I sat and waited. After about 5 minutes, I headed off to find Chris as I was tired of waiting. As he comes back to me, she says – “there are no 10s” to him. So I said “How come you didn’t tell me that, I was sitting there waiting for you to bring me the shoes” and things went down hill from there.

The girl in charge of the till asked us to leave. I said “Don’t you care that your employee doesn’t know how to do her job?” She told us to fill out a card to send to head office and told us we weren’t welcome back in the store. Huh?

There’s a Starbucks near us who has a pretty good staff overall. But there’s one guy who is almost never on the bar. He’s always on cash. Even then, he seems pretty stunned most of the time. I have no doubt that being a barista is harder than some jobs. Remembering how to make so many drinks and having customers customize them to within an inch of their names is tough.

I don’t know why they keep this guy on staff. He barely handles orders at the till and often needs them repeated. After going there regularly, the baristas know my order before I get to the till but he doesn’t usually get it when I tell it to him. Slow…ly.

Excellent customer service is hard, takes the right mindset, presence and thoughfulness. I understand this as I have been doing varying forms of customer service for 25 years, since my first paper route. I really appreciate the staff who really get it, own it and excel at it. My expectations are not that high. I honestly don’t expect the guy at Starbucks to remember my order. I expect him to get it right when I give it to him. If he wants to excel, he’ll remember it.

These days, whether because of high turn over, lazy management (I put the blame here), staff who have never had really good customer service to model from, low wages or whatever, your general retail experience in downtown Vancouver is less than stellar, and on the decline.

If you’ve had either great or crappy customer service experience, let me know. I want to shop at the good places.

I ended up buying shoes at Costco. Sadly, low expectations of service there and I’m never disappointed.

One thought on “Customer Service Ain’t Rocket Science

  1. Scot

    Unfortunately retail is… retail.
    It’s really a mix of:
    A) Low wages attract the wrong crowd to begin with.
    B) Sorry management can’t keep that crowd in check or just don’t care to…
    C) No ownership or pride in the business they work in. They’re there to get their $8.50 an hour or whatever with no incentive to do any better than take up space.

    Think about it… If you just didn’t care and you knew you were going to make $8.50 whether you took up space or if you busted your ass and watched everyone else take up space(including your lousy manager), what would you do? It is unfortunate though.

Comments are closed.