29 May 2011

social commentary Sunday . . . 'retail customer service'

Greetings all,
Oh boy, retail customer service . . . i was pondering topics for today's post, thinking along the lines of shops you boycott as they are crappy - service, opening hours, stock levels, proximity, parking - Spotlight sprang to mind as i got there at 4.03p.m. yesterday afternoon, needing zips & i had a 20% off voucher . . . CLOSED, what, don't they know crafters need emergency supplies after 4p.m. on weekends??  Add to that i only had 1 child with me & had coaxed him to let me go haberdashery shopping with a bribe of sushi, his 3 big sisters were out with friends & high tea'ing at the Hyatt.  Argh, he did some air fist pumps when he revealed the doors were locked, lights out & "open 9a.m.-4p.m. Saturdays Mum, let's go home".  Typical male & typical of my shopping trips out of my way (remember me driving 800km to Plain English in Scone a few weeks ago, to find they were closed on Wednesdays!!??)
This morning i ducked into the supermarkets: Woolworths check out boy spent my 5 minute transaction telling me he was tired as he'd been out drinking last night & his mate drove to the coast & back "because he could" & they sped all the way, but it was ok as it was straight roads.  Sorry, but at 9a.m. on a Sunday morning, i am not the 'party hard & drive wreckless' demographic & clearly from my shopping items, i scream 'mother of many'.  I said to him "not only would your mother kill you again if you died in a car accident, you are putting the lives of the other people on the road at risk, they have not asked for some bullet proof high school student to plow into them & ruin their lives".  He looked like he had never been spoken to in this tone or fashion before, so i continued telling him off & i parted with "do not become a road statistic just because you're an idiot & showing off to your friends".  Ha, go me!!  Next up Aldi: all i can assume from the typical unfriendly customer service here is that my check out boy had taken a vow of silence or was a contender for see-how-many-customers-i-can-not-speak-to world champion.  I know it's cheap at Aldi, buying off the pallet & all . . . that's why we go there or we'd all shop at beautiful providores . . . eye contact & smiles were not included.
I'm going to the Handmade Small Business Summit Friday week (win an all inclusive pass here) & simply can not wait.  I worked in various customer service jobs part time while at Uni, i know to say "thank you for your patience", to use open palm gestures like a game show spokes model, engage in appropriate small talk & not unsolicited information . . . i have social kudos & common sense.  I find the customer service at markets (like Rockstars & Royalty) is superior as you're engaging with the actual person who made the goods, they fill in the details & offer amazing ideas on how to use your product.  Brilliant.  I also know some amazing designers who are terribly shy, introverted & terrified of small talk or admitting they made the product people are gushing over, bless them, but they really shouldn't be behind their own stall.  Looking forward to the Summit & brushing up on my customer service snobbery, yes i judge, harshly, i can't stand poorly trained sales assistants or shudder - ones who talk to their colleagues & ignore you.  You should be allowed to shoot them!!
This is gorgeous Vicky from Rockstars & Royalty behind her stall at the Burlesque Bazaar last weekend, she does jewellery to couture wedding gowns, amazing.  She is always happy, looks the part & gives great service!!  Honestly, it's half the sale i think.  I get really put off when shops or markets don't appreciate that you have taken the time to come into their store & how hard is it to say "hello" to indicate that you exist!!??
What do you loathe about retail customer service??  Do you ever feel like you've ruined a shop assistant's day just by bothering them with your purchase or worse, a question about stock availability??  Have you ever had Little-Britain-style "computer says no" thrown back at you without any explanation??  Don't get me started on when a product doesn't have a code to scan!!  Have you unconditionally boycotted a shop on princple??  Have you had over-the-top service which put you off as they were too pushy or friendly??  I'd love to hear it all & pass on some feedback at the Summit.  Love Posie
PS last chance to enter my $500+ Lego GIVEAWAY today, i'll be back after 9p.m. with the winners, good luck!!

23 comments:

Make mine Mid-Century said...

Yes, I boycott shops!

And I love how you told off that young smarty-pants checkout boy! I've been to Woolworths and had to break up a mid-aisle gossip fest of teenage shelf-stackers all carrying on about their weekend. I couldn't believe how brazen they were to stand around just talking and blocking shoppers' paths.

Stick it to them!

deux chiens et un garcon said...

During my 9 years at University I supported myself fully by waitressing and a stint at Ikea. I used to get lots of tips because I really went out of my way for people to enjoy their meal. I tried to have the right balance of being friendly and chatty but not invasive into peoles space. Definitely dont thin I was ever surly. Would alays try and let people catch my eye, to let me know they needed something.

So when I get bad service now from some surly young thing I do get a bit simmering under the colour.

NOw I'm in a different area of service. Thats another post altogether.

x

Amy said...

Go you! Telling that check out boy off is something I would do all the while Hubby would be stadning next to me willing the ground to open up and swallow him as he would die of embarrasment.

Gillian said...

There is actually one shop we boycott. Darrel Lea. Saw the family on Australian Story a few years ago. A bitter twisted group of mean and spiteful people. Adopted kids who had to work work work then got nothing in inheritance.

A father who had no attachment to his son (He said something like "Why should a moment of pleasure mean a lifetime of connection?"... nice one DAD). The dad then died after an illness and the son didn't visit him.

How can one enjoy a sweet made from bitterness?!

Thea said...

I love this post as bad customer service is one of my pet peeves. Why should it be so hard?? I hate going into large stores such as the Officeworks near my work as they can never help you find anything. How about training your staff?? I also detest unfriendly service. Every customer deserves to feel appreciated. And I'm so with you on designers/crafters who can't/won't promote their own products. Why bother with what you're doing if you don't think it's good enough? That's my 5 cents worth. x

The Moerks said...

Nice work with the checkout boy Jennie! This is a timely post because yesterday I went on a shopping trip (4 hours travel). In shop A the lady was very encouraging, just forage and try on was her mantra. My friend found a great top. On the way out we asked about a shop round the corner. "just be careful" she warned. "She will tell you anything looks good". Off we went then lady in shop b marches up and says to both of us "mother of the bride or groom?" Er "I got that wrong didn't I" she says. Well we were stunned followed by hysterical laughter, wondering if was our 7, 10 or 12 yr olds getting married. Went back to shop a to report. She just laughed and suggested we go back later in the morning when shop b lady was onto her 4th drink.

Frances said...

Well Done - we dont need anymore road statistics! I boycott shops as well, to my husbands amusement and embarrassment sometimes! There is a patchwork shop that is quite large that I visited last week hoping to get a couple of little items, but all in vain, as a new quilter I am a little inexperienced with what is what and the high and mighty attitude did it for me - never to return. Why do they think that you know everything and talk technical even with the blank look on my face they should have worked it out! Called into the little shop tucked away and gusess what great service, good advice and they had what i want - should support the small business!!!!

Bec said...

I was a casual checkout chick in high school around 12 years ago, and we were always being trained in customer service and in other important things like PACKING bags!
Everytime my toilet cleaner is packed with my biscuits or chocolate (way too often for my liking despite unloading my trolley according to type of groceries) I wonder if this training is not given anymore? Obviously it cost the company as we were paid while attending the training, but I believe it was money worth spent!

Tania McCartney said...

At shops I love to be greeted warmly, told if I need help they're there for me, and then left to my own devices. The best sales people are those who can 'sense' if you need help or want more info. I actually don't like it when they come over and ply you with inane information - if I'm interested in something, I'll certainly make it known. I also boycot stores whose staff is too chatty and gushy. I mean - boycott altogether.

At markets, I love the warm personal service and I am absolutely open to more of a chat because I know the person put a lot of work into the item and I'm fascinated to learn more. I really detest the hard sell, but being completely ignored - not even a hello - is even worse.

deux chiens et un garcon said...

Sorry typo error meant collar.

However would also like to add that I really appreciate good service. Especially from a young person. I smile and think ahead and hope that could be my sn serving me with such good spirit one day.

x

Sharon (Roses and Rust) said...

I also get incensed with bad service - but sometimes it's not worth the high blood pressure trying to fight it! Thanks for your comment. I was actually thinking about you this weekend. My husband is away at a conference so I am doing all the parenting on my own. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself then remembered that you do it most of the time and seem to cope without complaining! I am in awe!! x Sharon

Leonie said...

I can't stand poor customer service. Its one thing that really makes me really mad.
good on you for what you said to that young man!!
As a young person working in retail I valued my job too much to ever be so rude to customers...as they say, the customer is always right.
And I am paying their wages!!!

notquitecrafty said...

I had a tantrum in woolies yesterday - the checkout guy (an old one) informed me that he was closed, after I had been in line for a good 5 minutes. I then informed him I was in line before he decided to close to which his response was that he was closing in 3 minutes (and there were still 2 people in front of me). I told him that he could spend his 3 minutes putting my trolley load away, and went off to find the sueprvisor to complain - she at least had the courtesy to checkout my groceries - I am find all the woolies stores in this area to have dreadful customer service. At least at our closest Coles store the service is quick. And an Aldi near here has lovely staff & service.

It makes my blood boil when you are provided with bad service, and there are some stores I most definitely do avoid (especially one large department store who seem to never have anyone around to see you anything)

Kerryanne English said...

Great post Posie.
I remember years ago when we went to the US I had trouble getting my head around tipping... however, their customer service was A1 and I guess working for gratitude does that.
Wake up Australia - our customer service in general sucks, a great percentage of this new generation are knuckle heads and don't even get me started on the young man's night out lunacy....gggrrrr!!
Lucky there are still a few of us that believe in and give GOOD customer service.
Stepping down off my soap box now!!

Sarah B said...

When I shop I like to be greeted and then basically not bothered until I need help or ask a question. I will always walk out if I get pushy behaviour. I hate it!
How interesting what Gillian said about Darrel Lea
x

Posie Patchwork said...

This is basically a huge tick towards everything i believe in & loathe about bad customer service. Completely shocked & amazed at the Darrel Lea story, that is so incredibly sad & awful. Thanks ladies, love Posie

Shelley said...

There are two people I see regularly who work in retail - one at the supermarket, one at the coffee shop. Neither of them will ever smile or make eye contact. It has become my mission to be annoyingly over friendly to try to break one of them. Five months in and I'm still yet to get any reaction out of either of them. I find it odd given that their job is dealing with the public. (And no, it's not just me, I've seen them with many other customers just the same).

AllIsClear said...

Ooh Posie, don't get me started... (in fact I've tried to write this post several times but have had to start again as it has been too cross/long/ferocious/trivial etc!). My worst experience EVER happened only a week or so agcxzzo in the US of A. Yes, it was at an outlet centre, yes, the clothes were pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap and, no, I didn't go in expecting miracles but, really... is it REALLY ok to microwave your stinking ready-meal lunch in the cubbyhole just behind the checkout in a Maternity Wear shop???!! Urgh, I wasn't even pregnant and I nearly threw - my sister, who is, left almost before we got in.

I take my hat off to you for dishing out a bollocking to that boy... you may well have saved his life! (I tremble in advance for your kids who clearly have a Mother who cares about them more than she cares what they think of her!! And that's a good thing btw.)

Alice

Just Martha said...

Go Posie!! Good for you. Hope he was listening at least a little. Have a lovely week...

Posie Patchwork said...

Totally loving the over the top friendly approach to narky bored staff, ha, i wonder if they even notice. I find it particularly alarming that these people don't appreciate they have a job. Maybe they should be back office staff?? Love Posie

Mara said...

How timely!!... I read this yesterday after getting back from a spot of shopping while Miss 7 months slept. I had too go to two shops: Jeans West... busy store at the time I went in... girl couldn't have been nicer "Good morning! Can I help you with something or are you just looking?" I didn't get anything then but went back 30 mins later and the second I walked in she remembered me.LOVELY....

onto the other store: Bras N THings... walked into an EMPTY store with 2 sales assistants gabbing about clubbing or something meanwhile I stand gazing at the bras (obviously looking for something) for 15MINUTES until I FINALLY got some attention ... even when one lady did help me I would really call it "assistance"... very disappointed in their service - esp cause last time I went I had the most helpful girl ever! I actually feel like writing them a letter! I really wanted to turn around and say very loudly " I hate to interrupt your important conversation but I would like some help!!"

Mama of 2 boys said...

Love this Posie... not your hideous retail encounters obviously... but the topic! I could go on all day about dodgy customer service stories.
I have had a few like the guy you had the misfortune of having your groceries scanned by. Always on a Sunday too! They range from total disinterest to not shutting up for the whole time they scan... anything from how tired they are because they had to get up at 8am for 9am start (how tough!) to how they can't wait for uni holidays because life is just so hectic! It always makes me laugh when I have 2 children perched up in my trolley and I clearly haven't slept a full night in years ;o)
I've had some doozy encounters with places such as Coles/Target/Myer. I had one lady at Myer, forget to scan my rewards card, even though I handed it straight to her. Then when I questioned it, she pretended she did scan it. And when I showed her the receipt without the rewards details, she promptly told me to call the customer service line when I get home to have them put it on. So I walked to the next register and another lady added the points from my purchase on the spot! Lack of skills/training is no excuse not to try and help a customer.
Sorry for the rant... I said I could go all day ;o)

donna said...

LMAO. I'm at home right now having one of those bad experiences. we have just built an extra family room and are ready for the new tellie/sound system. We wanted it all done for us, with good advice and hopefully ending up with a good product with no fuss. Spent alot (well alot more than we would have at JB or somewhere like that) got all the specs so the electrician could do the wiring pre instal. Now the guy is here with a TV we didn't order, speakers too low, a bracket that has now been moved 4 - yes 4 times (imagine the lovely holes in our brand new wall) and to top it off he has told me it has to be moved again as the TV isn't deep enough to cover the power point that was put exacty where they told us to put it. Oh - and as he has been here so long there will be an additinal charge for the instal. Eerrrr. I don't think so pal!!!!!!!!