August 22, 2004

The retail discussion.

So Tammi was interested in the "Retail discussion" that Eric and I had. Well, I'm here to tell you that the discussion was not really about reatail per se, but more about the service that you get, and what you expect.

Eric's point (In a nutshell) is that if you can't handle giving Service to a bitchy customer, then you are in the wrong "bidness", and should choose something else to do with your life. This is a very good argument.

As we've all observed, there are people out there who are performing tasks in the workplace that it is completely against thier character to do. The "Surly Guy" being placed as a "greeter" at your local Wally-World, or the "Guy who can't spell ", becoming a writer, or the person who can't add, being an accountant. (Bad examples I know, but screw it, it's late. Come up with your own examples.)

Eric had an example of a person requesting a "hammer" from a retail associate. You'll have to imagione the difference here, but in the first example, the "tone" of the customer is just as sugary sweet as you could ask for, and in the second, the person had just had found out that thier spouse had fooled around on them with a retail associate. In either case, the "customer" was requesting something specific, and in the end, they got the correct amount of guidance to the item that they were looking for. With little or zero "attitude" in either case.

I followed up with a scenario that I had experienced. As I came in from the greenhouse patio, I stopped at the register's to inform the cashier's that I was taking my break. As I turned away from them, I noticed a little woman (whom I hadn't even noticed was standing there) standing about eight feet away from the register "Island". As soon as she saw me register her existence, she blurted out the phrase (and rather "pissilly" too) "aren't you supposed to be helping me?". My response was, (Just as pissilly) "No. I'm supposed to be on break!...But...How can I help you?".

The point I was trying to make was that there is a certain class of customer that is so ignorant of the situation that they don't deserve any type of civility whatsoever. Eric's point was that the ignorance of the customer makes no difference, and the service should be the same. I tend to disagree with that sentiment, and the turning point of the argument is the specificity of the request.

Myself and the "Straight White Wife" built up a comparison between our jobs (Which are primarily retail), and his job "which is technologically oriented". He is an MIS individual who supports multiple people and systems. The comparison was between somone saying to him "My computer's broken" vs "my email won't let me log in".

To be continued....

Posted by Johnny - Oh at August 22, 2004 01:06 AM

I'm gonna enjoy this "series". :) Thanks so much.

I actually teach this very thing in one of my training classes. I spend about 50% of my job training Retail Sales Associates on how to sell my product, deal with pissy customers, read and understand what they customers really want vs what they are saying. Now, I realize these RSA's work mostly on commission, so the situation is just that different, but I am very interested in what you have to say on this as a matter of perspective! :)

Posted by: Tammi at August 22, 2004 07:26 AM

Ditto. I've done plenty of customer service (5 years of pizza delivery through college, ya know :-), and I find this discussion fascinating.

Posted by: Harvey at August 22, 2004 02:55 PM
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