Customer DISservice

Thing One is back from vacation, which means it's time to return Lulu to Daddy. But before we do that, he came up to spend a weekend shopping at The Mall.

One item to be found was a Skagen watch, available at Macy's. Sunday, we went in, stood at the watch counter and waited. And waited and waited and waited. Why? Because the trainee salesman hadn't gotten the memo about catching the customer's eye and letting them know that they're next. Nope. He just dealt with the endless questions that the other customer had. So we walked.

Saturday, we'd stopped at Circuit City to find a shelf stereo system. I'd given up my own stereo years ago when Thing One and I moved in together - he had a really decent one. The cottage is too small for anything but I'll need something larger in the very near future (this is what's known as foreshadowing). After looking (and listening) to the selection, the JVC was chosen. Then we waited for a salesperson to help answer a couple of questions (Thing One absolutely had to have a remote control, and we wanted two units - one each). The salesguy for that area meandered over, we grabbed him and asked. Yes to the remote. But another one? That would require checking. He headed over to the computer/check out terminal, and 15 minutes later had neither returned nor caught our eye. So we left. Sunday we returned, and I found him and asked if perhaps now he had time for us and our questions. His response was a mumbled something about being busy the day before... and that there weren't any left. I asked about the next shipment - more mumbling.

So I headed for the manager. Thing One was pissed, and cranky, and that's never a good thing. I explained to the manager how this was not "service", and that we would go elsewhere because clearly they didn't care about our money/custom. But no! The manager was overly eager to help - what ever he could do to make us happy, he'd do. Then he suggested what the salesguy should have suggested: ordering the item. Why the sales staff weren't trained to automatically offer that, I don't know. We walked out with one unit, and another on order.

Back to Macy's watch counter. The salesman was still dealing with the other customer, this time with two others helping him. Turns out, the first guy was - you guessed it - a trainee. A few minutes later, one of the trainers caught our eye... ten minutes later, Thing One had a new watch. Very nice one too, I might add.

Here's my question/problem. I've worked in the "service industry" (I'd even argue that, as a school librarian, I still do). Eye contact with customers on line is essential. So is trying to help them so they don't walk away unhappy, much less walk over to your manager and complain. When did that change?

At MPOW, I try to have someone available for reference at all times. Sometimes that doesn't quite work, but the goal is to have someone at the desk, ready to help whenever we're open. If we treated our customers the way these two stores did, I'd be embarrassed and ashamed of my staff and our program. And we're non-profit!

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