What bugs you most about shopping? What bugs me most about any store is not high prices or poor selection, it’s the snarly, uncaring, unengaged staff. You know who I mean—the sullen teen who seems so overburdened by having a job that it’s almost beneath him to raise his eyes and say hello to me. Or the one who is yakking on her cell phone the whole time and completely ignoring me. Or the one whose eye rolling is so pronounced I’m afraid his eyes are going to pop out of his head and roll down the conveyor belt and drop into my shopping bag.
Now I do remember what it’s like to work at a grocery store at that age. It’s annoying to have to, like WORK for like MONEY, and SO like uncool to be seen by like your friends and all, but I also remember meeting nice people sometimes and actually enjoying it. I even met a celebrity once! (OK, so she was a minor celebrity… Arlene Dahl. But she was a star!)
I thought my frustration was just me getting old and crotchety, but it’s not! A lot of people feel the same way! The National Retail Federation’s magazine, Stores, did a great cover story on customer service.The survey by Prosper Technologies, a firm that specializes in customer research, showed that rude employees were at the top of the list of thigs customers hate most. Employees that don’t seem to care or don’t know about the products they’re selling was the next biggest gripe.
I asked Susan Reda, executive editor of Stores magazine and the article’s author, if she was at all surprised by the results of the survey. “I was not surprised by the results; sadly, I’ve been on the receiving end of some less than stellar service.”
Michael Perkins from Prosper Technologies puts it well: "More often than most merchants realize, it’s the one-to-one interaction between a customer and an associate that determines whether shoppers happily return—or vow never to set foot in a store again. One customer service meltdown can sabotage years of customer-centric good will.”
But of course, what about being a bad customer? Reda agrees. “I think that while there is clear room for improvement and better training before (clerks) hit the salesfloor, I think the world in general has become more rude. I’ve witnessed plenty of times when someone was trying to ask a customer a question and they were shushed by a customer who was rudely engaged in a phone conversation rather than paying attention to what the clerk was asking. The pendulum swings both ways.”
She’s absolutely right, of course. Have you had any experiences in a store that made you want to scream?