Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December 1, 2009

Last year, about a month before Christmas, Lucas and I were shopping for a present for his Nana’s birthday. For his grandparents, I generally let Lucas try to pick something out on his own, and when we were at the mall, there was a kiosk with all sorts of different picture frames. We looked for one, and actually found a nice pewter one that said “Nana”, so we asked the girl that was working if we could buy it. She looked all around for the box, and after a few minutes, told us that it looked like the only one that they had was the one on display, so we wouldn’t have a box for it. The kiosk was part of a poster store located elsewhere in the mall, so we went there to see if there were any others with a box. There wasn’t another one, so we headed back to the kiosk and bought the frame without the box since it was for her birthday that weekend, and Lucas really wanted to get it for her.
A couple of weeks later, we were in the mall again doing some Christmas shopping, and we were looking at the kiosk. All of a sudden, I hear a voice ask “Did Nana like her picture frame?” and I look up to see the same girl that helped us a couple of weeks earlier. We bought another frame that day, and as we were paying, I mentioned that I thought she was very helpful the last time, and that I was very impressed that she remembered Lucas and I from two weeks ago, and what we bought. I asked her name, which was Jessica, and called the store the next day to tell the manager how impressed I was. Good customer service is something to applaud, and should be recognized.

My trip to Niagara Falls on the weekend reminded me of this story because I was faced with some of the worst customer service I have ever seen. And I don’t even mean just one location. Across the board, it was abysmal. If you read yesterday’s post on my trip, you’ll remember that the most dramatic of them would have been the exchange over the dress shirt that I mentioned, where the employee and customer were both copping a heaping helping of attitude with each other. But on three separate occasions, in three different stores, when I asked for help with something, or if they had a different size, I was given the retail employee’s go-to cop-out answer, “If it’s not out there, then we don’t have it.”

“If it’s not out there, we don’t have it.”

Let’s analyze that statement, shall we? First of all, it’s obviously not out there, or I wouldn’t have asked you. Second of all, this statement shows absolutely zero interest in helping someone find what they’re looking for. You don’t even have the decency to acknowledge that you’re sold out of a certain size, or that you don’t have any more of what I’m looking for? Why are you even here, then? At least make an effort…tell me that you’ll check in the back, or that you don’t know, and you’ll find out. I’d rather hear someone say “I don’t know” and be willing to help than get that token garbage line. Or better yet…just lie to me…tell me you’re checking for me, and when you’re gone, just go text your friend in the back room. I don’t care, but I want to feel like you’re actually trying to help me.
I used to work in retail, at a music store, and I prided myself on being able to help people. Maybe that’s why I get my buns in a knot when I get bad customer service, and why I make a note of it when it’s good. Jessica still works at the poster store in the mall, and even now, over a year later, she always says hello and stops to talk to Lucas and I when we see her. I know it gets stressful working a retail job, sometimes dealing with some really nasty customers (trust me, I remember), but I wish there were more people who were willing to help.

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