Showing posts with label customer service. Show all posts
Showing posts with label customer service. Show all posts

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Do You Have More In The Back?

I want to dispel a rampant notion that quite a few people seem to have.  You all might want to sit down and brace yourselves because I don’t want anyone passing out and hurting him or herself.  All set?  Okay.
Individual stores – be they retail or grocery – 99% of the time do not make the products they are selling on their shelves.  This means that if they run out of a product, they have to wait for more quantity of that said product to come in.  Let that sink in.  Feel free to get back up and go for a walk around the block.  I’ll be here when you return.
I state the obvious for the simple reason that nobody seems to comprehend this.  Nothing in the store = you get nada/zilch/nothing (is my point made?).  You might be saying, “But anonymous internet blogger, I’m not an idiot.  I know you don’t have dozens of workers in the back assembling multiple brands of televisions, DVD players, refrigerators, CDs, laptops, gaming systems, and whatever the hell a Roku is.”
Ah, and I say to you that you may THINK you know that, but you must have some sort of Memento-like amnesia because it seems that whenever a product goes out of stock (usually around the holidays), everyone freaks out.  How could a retailer that exists in reality in a finite amount of space, carrying dozens upon dozens of products at any one time, run out of something?  This is America!  The land of plenty!  I demand my Kenny Loggins Christmas CD!
So, I feel it is important to remind you all that if a place runs out of something, they usually don’t have direct and immediate access to more of that thing.  And no matter how many times you repeat the fact that you desperately need this product otherwise your loved one(s) will never love you again, it will not change a thing.  I’m not a wizard disguised as an hourly retail worker.  My usual conversation does NOT go like this:
Customer:  “Do you have the new PS4?”
Me:  “No, I’m sorry, we sold out of them.”
Customer:  “Are you sure?”
Me:  “Yeah, I’m sorry.”
Customer:  “You don’t have any in the back?”
(This, by the way, is my favorite question of all time.  The mysterious backroom that also houses the Ark of the Covenant.)
Me:  “Yes, if we had any, they would be out on the floor.”
Customer:  “Because my son asked for one for Christmas this year and my brother already bought him three games for it.  The only reason we’re getting it is because my wife and I told him we’d get him one if he got straight A’s this semester and he did.”
(Because, obviously, I didn’t want to sell you one before and make revenue but now that I know your entire life history?  I definitely have ten of them waiting for only the ‘special’ customers.)
Me:  “Well, in THAT case!”  I look around and then magically pull a PS4 out of my sleeve and hand it to the customer.
Actually, now that I think about it, everything up until that last part is how it usually goes.  I have to repeat myself no less than 4 times on average whenever somebody doubts our product quantity.  This isn’t some riddle where asking me the right combination of words to see if we have something will solve things and get you what you’re looking for.
And no matter how dire the situation or how persistent or demanding you may be, that will not get you a different result.  If we’re out, we’re out.
The same goes for grocery stores.  They’re not attached to a slaughterhouse that can get you a different cut of lamb.  They don’t have banana trees in the produce backroom.  They aren’t canning their own olives.  They just aren’t.  So stop repeating your question because unless you want to drive to a different store or wait, you’re not going to get what you’re looking for.  Just deal with it.
I think it’s part of that culture where everyone is expecting to be able to get whatever they want just because they get their way in every other aspect of life by just bitching a little louder than the other person.  The entitlement class isn’t just some bullshit label that some people throw around for one portion of the population.  It’s a label that can apply to anyone be they poor, rich, black, white, young, old – whatever.  If you were raised spoiled or raised to feel overly special when you just aren’t – if you were raised to believe you were owed something, then naturally you’re going to feel like if you just talked louder or pleaded your case harder, you’ll get your way.
The reality – again – is:  you just won’t.  Get over yourself.  Most likely there are hundreds of people who are looking for the same thing you are.  Most likely there are not hundreds of that product available for immediate purchase.  Deal with it.
Shit, now I’M repeating myself.  See what happens when you have to deal with ridiculousness each day?
At least I feel better.  So, just remember – no means no.  Actually, remember that even if you’re not trying to ask for something that’s not in stock.  It’s a pretty good tip to know for everyday life.  Free tips are always in stock here.  You’re welcome.  Please, come again.
More soon from the frontlines...

Monday, February 4, 2013

Take This Survey And Win A Supermodel Wife And Ten Million Dollars!! PLEASE!!

Recently, my job has been focusing heavily on trying to get customers to take the survey on the bottom of the receipts they get from us.  You see them all the time – it’s that thing located way at the bottom of the receipt you don’t even think twice about.  But really, who could blame you?
Past the list of products, the money you spent, and the information about how long you can return something, who cares about a survey?  Our time is already filled to the brim with other time-wasters as it is.  We can’t afford to sit in front of our computer to rate how we enjoyed our visit into Flo’s House Of Doilies for our three dollar purchase!  We have to get home so we can see the newest American Idol!  It’s trials week and everybody knows how those are the best part!  Then after that, it’s Facebook time to look at all the links our coworkers post and to creep every single photograph that someone special we’ve had our eye on for some time.  SURVEY? Pfft!!
And it doesn’t matter if the person who helped you out at the store – even if all they did was ring out your three dollar purchase – was the most amazing person in the world.  I’m not just talking about somebody who smiled as he or she thanked you for coming in today.  I’m talking about somebody who somehow resisted the urge to spit in your face despite the maniacal ranting you did when you couldn’t find that doily you were looking for (he/she found it five feet from where you were looking).  We just forget to take it or we just don’t want to fill out a ten minute survey about every tiny detail about your trip into Flo’s store.  Forget the fact that it’d probably take closer to three minutes to complete and not ten.

I can’t tell you how many people have told me that they’d fill out the survey because I was, “so helpful, and not like any other salesperson I’ve talked to at other places,” or some similar platitude.  Then, days or weeks later when I decide to look at our store’s comments that people leave on those surveys, I don’t see anything with my name in it or even the department I work in.
I’m guilty of it, too.  I even tell the person who mentions the survey to me that I’ll take the survey because they were so nice.  But I never do.  I feel bad – it’s certainly not something I mean to lie about, but it just happens.  So, I guess I can’t get too mad at my customers that do the exact same thing.

The fact that so many companies try to entice you with hopes of winning gift cards or other cash prizes if you would just take their surveys seems to not even matter.  You could promise them a chance at winning a million dollars (and since the odds are better of winning that than winning a million dollars if you played the Lotto, those odds are pretty favorable) and you still won’t get people to fill out a ten question survey.  It makes me wonder who exactly wins these prizes.  I’ve certainly never heard of anyone winning these amazing shopping sprees or gift cards at any store other than one time.  When I was first hired by my company, I saw a video proving somebody supposedly won, but other than that ONE time, nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  What’s up with that?
Well, how about the two of us – you and me – change all of that?  From here on out, I promise to try really hard to fill out every single goddamn survey I get on every single goddamn receipt, no matter how small my purchase was.  How about you all do the same?  Up for the challenge?
Let’s leave a little positive feedback for people who are in the shittiest of shitty jobs, because maybe something nice will happen for them.  Maybe they’ll see the comments and it’ll cheer them up from an otherwise dismal day at work.  Perhaps they’ll win something nice for impacting their customers’ experiences.  Perhaps karma will even be kind to us and we’ll get something nice for our troubles like, say, a shopping spree for hundreds of dollars???
What say you?  Let’s put out the challenge to everyone we know.  Let’s go forth and do something wonderfully small acts of kindness for the sake of our fellow man or woman.

Right after I catch up on my Facebooking.
More soon from the frontlines...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Me, Me, Me

     This entry ties closely to a few previous entries but I’ve had enough annoying situations of late that I wanted to expound on this subject a bit more.  That subject is the greatest bane of every retail worker’s life and the worst two-word phrase in the English language:  customer satisfaction.  Don’t get me wrong!  I don’t think companies should tell customers to go fuck themselves.
     Well, maybe not all customers.
     Companies should promote a relative level of warmth for customers when they enter the stores.  I don’t, however, believe in companies bending over backwards to make sure every customer feels like they can treat the employees like homeless people or relatives they didn’t like.  Often, there are customer interactions where I feel like the store’s the girlfriend who never feels good enough for their boyfriend no matter how hard they work on their looks or try to keep them happy.
     For instance, customers come into electronic stores and often believe it’s a flea market and not a retail store.
     “How much for this stereo system?”
     “Three hundred bucks.”
     “How about two-fifty?”
     “How about you keep the two-fifty and kiss my ass?”
     Since when are prices adjustable?  I’ve mentioned that before but really, it’s the store’s fault for letting customers think they can get away with that.  In a desperate attempt to get every dollar they can, I’ve seen retail companies take money off of products for no reason other than to just to get a sale.  Then the customer thinks, “Oh, great, next time I’m at the store, I’ll just ask for money off and they’ll do it!”
     It’s great to make a person feel like they’re being taken care of but they should feel that way just by the store having good prices as is.  There shouldn’t be a need to discount something just for the sake of discounting.  If someone can’t pay the price of a $300 I-Pod, maybe they shouldn’t buy the $300 I-Pod.  Don’t live beyond your means – or hasn’t this economical clusterfuck taught us anything?  I don’t go out and eat at 5 star restaurants every night because I can’t afford it.  I don’t go there and ask if I can get a discount on the steak just because I’m a good customer.
     There are also retail companies that allow returns without receipts. What!  There are ways to look up most transactions in a store’s computer database but there are times when that isn’t the case, and yet in those instances people can still return items.  I’m sorry but a store shouldn’t accept your shit back for no reason (and let’s be honest, shit that probably isn’t from the store they’re returning it to). 
     Then there are some grocery companies that do any tiny thing that the customer could easily do at home just to create a friendly, helpful atmosphere.
     “Cut this whole chicken up into ten million pieces for me.”
     “Do you own a knife at home?”
     “Yes.”
     “Oh, so you’re just lazy on top of being rude.”
     People are infants when they walk into a store and they expect everything done for them or done their way.  It’s become so bad that normal sales aren’t good enough for people.  They need discounts on top of discounts.  They expect it because it’s a “special” price just for them.  Well, if everyone expects it, then it’s not so special and the store’s not so profitable.
     “I know this refrigerator is nine-hundred dollars off but is there any discount on that?”
     “Besides the nine-hundred dollars you just saw as the sale?”
     “Oh, but it’s still so expensive!”
     “Then go by one that you can afford.”
     Retail stores & grocery stores shouldn’t be afraid to tell a customer “no”.  Just like you had to learn to tell your child “no” when he or she wanted to eat Twinkies as their breakfast.  Maybe, if the customer hears it enough things will go back to being normal.  Customers won’t think they can walk all over a company just because they know the company will do anything to please them.  And if a customer threatens to walk out the door and shop elsewhere, well, to paraphrase the line, “If you love something, let it go.  If it’s meant to be, they’ll return.”  I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve seen walk through our doors and tell me, “I never thought I’d be shopping here again…”  Time heals all wounds and all egos.
     Again, customers:  live within your means.  It’s nice to have the BMW but maybe you’re just a Ford kind of guy.  It’s okay if you weren’t born in the top 3% of the income bracket.  Shit happens!  Do you think I like slumming it with the rest of the 97%?  Let me put that in a more friendly way…
     Welcome to our store!  How can we help you??
     More soon from the frontlines...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"I'm Going To Repeat Myself Only Louder In The Vain Attempt You'll Change Your Mind!"

     A fun common thread that all retail work includes is the amount of yelling customers tend to do.  Fortunately, it’s not a common thread, but it’s a thread none-the-less.  It is an issue that generally occurs at the customer service desk at each store.  In all of my time, I would calculate that the amount of issues that got resolved to the customer’s satisfaction because they resorted to yelling stands at about a 30% success rate.  The other 70%, the customer’s acting like a complete asshole for no reason and get tossed out of the store once they begin to attract attention.  Well, other than they were too stupid to comprehend what they were buying, that is.
     First, the 30%.  The only reason managers or employees cave-in to a customer’s yelling and ranting is because they are tired of dealing with clearly insane people and have ten other things to get to more important.  Sorry to hear you left your new I-Pod in your car in 100 degree weather and now it won’t play, but you want us to take the product back, because…?  “WELL, BECAUSE YOU GUARANTEE YOUR PRODUCTS TO WORK FOR THE FIRST x-amount OF DAYS!  IT’S NOT MY FAULT!”  Riiiiight.  Customers who fuck up don’t ever want to admit they fucked up and will always claim an issue isn’t “their fault”.  They get pissed at stores for not taking responsibility but when there’s an issue that’s clearly their fault, they will not own up to it.
     If customers want to be treated like children, don’t be surprised when you are.
     So, the 30% shouldn’t feel like they won the Indy 500 just because they got their way over some small issue that probably wasn’t the store’s fault.  Calm down – you threw a tantrum and got your way.  The same thing works for 3 year olds.
     Now, the 70%.  Personally, I wish more people would resort to yelling, because I love watching people get escorted out of stores because they were screaming.  Who let’s an issue escalate to the point where they start yelling?  I don’t know 1 time when I’ve yelled at someone because of an issue at a restaurant or retail store.  Plus, like I mentioned, it’s the 70% that never get their way by yelling.  So, what does it accomplish?  Does it make you feel big that you screamed at, most likely, an 18-24 year old behind a customer service desk who did nothing other than repeat business procedure to you about a return or a defective product?
     People DO realize that the people working at the retail stores don’t actually MAKE the products they’re buying, right?
     “Your store shouldn’t sell crap that just breaks down on someone five months later.”
     Well, imagine how many people are out there who probably purchased your product and didn’t have an issue.  There’s always a lemon, remember.  A farmer’s yearly yield of oranges sometimes produces a few individual oranges that go bad by the time they reach the grocery stores.  Should grocery stores stop carrying produce from that farmer because they can’t guarantee every single item put on display will remain fresh by the time you get it to your table?
     If you really want to get your way, go in with a level head and a pleasant attitude.  A cheerful, understanding customer who politely asks if there’s anything the employees can do to help you works a million times better than a screaming, idiotic, customer.  I will go 10 times beyond what’s asked of me for a customer who is polite and friendly than I would for a dick who demands or rushes me when I’m trying to help them.  I know we all have bad experiences with retail but there’s no need to let it affect how you act now.  Again, the only people I know of that can get away with acting petulant are 2-4 year olds.  Everyone else should grow up.  Got it?
     There are plenty of issues that arise in the store where customers yell, or snap, and I’ll be getting into specific stories later.  But for now, just remember, if you get a product you’re not 100% satisfied with, it’s not going to do you any good to go into the store and yell and attract attention to yourself.  Unless you want to make the employees working at the store laugh at you after you storm out of the store.  Then, by all means, feel free to act like a jackass!  I work in retail – I need the laugh.  Breathe and calm down, everyone.
     More soon from the frontlines…