Friday, February 10, 2012

What Is This "Customer Service" You Speak Of...? 0_o*

It just burns my biscuits! Seriously, young people today have so little clue of what customer service is that it has Miss Manners weeping into her handkerchief and Emily Post spinning in her grave fast enough to generate power for most of the county wherein I reside! What has happened? I mean, when I walk into the local Rite Aide store # 06489, choose my items and walk to the front only to find it empty of anything human, and I can't find anyone to willingly relieve me of my money for the items I have, something's wrong.

I understand that they have to restock shelves, clean up where rude parents have let their even ruder little kids run amok and generally tend the store. I really do get that. How-some-ever... it's not good store policy to entirely abandon the area near the exit. See, if I weren't an honest person, I could have been out that exit, in my car and out of the parking lot before store security (if they even have it) could have responded to my five-fingered-discount. I did find a young female-person down one aisle not too far from the front but she ignored my three, progressively louder, "Excuse me's" to the point where she even walked away!

Now, you have to know me to see where this is going (Sister's probably already shaking her head). I got frustrated (not a good place for me to be, what with my dramatic tendencies) and said, very loudly, "EXCUSE ME!" then peered back down the same aisle I'd seen the young female in. It took a few moments for her to even turn and look. I gave her an "I'm-needing-help-here" look and she gives me a three second blank stare, then hollers "We need a cashier at the front!" as she goes back to stacking what was unstacked.

Welcome to Customer Service for 2012, folks.

After a few moments another young lady came trotting up... no, walking up (no hurry, here) to help me. I admit, my expression was probably irritated (Sister says I can't hide how I feel... guess I'll never play poker) and I told her it really wasn't a good idea to leave the front unattended like that. She apologized with the excuse she didn't hear me. Now, I'm no shrinking violet. When I choose to be heard, you're going to hear me (just ask any of my Sunday school kids!). I can modulate my voice from "you-need-to-quiet-down" loud (Sister's advice when I'm agitated and not controlling my feelings) to "drill-sergeants-would-be-green-with-envy" on-deck loud. This time, I was somewhere in-between, leaning toward "quiet-down" but still loud. She had to have heard me unless she had earphones in. She heard the girl who hollered for a cashier and she wasn't as loud as my "excuse me" was. I explained, though, that I had meant it wasn't a good idea to leave the front unattended because people could just walk out without paying. Not good. I got an "oh-well,-sorry-'bout-that" from her.

Okay, fine. Still, kids, you need to know that customer service is not apologising after the fact. It's making sure you don't have to apologise at all (except for those customers who won't be happy no matter what and I'm not counting them). Yes, you want to keep the store clean and neat. We shoppers who aren't rude appreciate it. Yes, you want to restock the shelves from time to time. Those of us with a specific agenda appreciate it. But, you still want to make sure there's always a worker who's near the exit. Not just to check out those who are done and ready to leave (though we appreciate it) but to make sure no one does give themselves a five-fingered-discount. Your boss (and the store's owner) will appreciate it.

Now, this isn't the only example of a lack of customer service, nor is it the worst (the worst is the blank stares some of them give you as if to say "I dunno!") but it's the most recent and annoying, that's why Rite Aide ended up on the chopping block. They need to train their employees in service, not just how to run the cash register and scoop the ice cream or mop the floor and stack the shelves. If someone is ready to check out, and you're not trained on the register, SAY SO. As in "You're ready to check out? I'm sorry, I'm not trained on the register but, if you'll give me just a moment, I'll have someone right here who can help you!" Don't just holler "CASHIER TO THE FRONT!" in front of the customers. It's uncouth. It's rude. And, it's certainly not service by any stretch of the imagination.

And, if you are trained to the register, but it's not your duty station today? Tough!! Get your hind end up there and check the customer out! THAT'S service! But, that's another problem with (most of) today's young people. If they weren't specifically told "this is your job and you will do it with a smile" they won't do it. Even if they know how. With or without a smile.

Here's another example. Less "rude" but certainly disconcerting. I'm from the generation when stores said "you break it, you bought it!" so I'm (usually) careful when I'm looking at breakables. Now-a-days, things being massed produced as they are, the larger stores aren't so strict on that creed because they get credit on items they have to return as damaged. The other day in Target, I wasn't so careful and broke a bowl. It took me 20 minutes to find a store worker (more because I was also shopping and they were working... hard li'l gophers to catch) When I did find one and began my shameful confession, he said "Oh, it's okay" grabbed the bowl and took off. I was glad I wasn't in trouble and didn't have to pay for a useless bowl but... still!

Think about this, young people. If someone comes to you that they've broken something, don't just grab and run (even if you're in the middle of something). Take a moment, ask if they cut themselves (probably not, but I have two words for you in today's litigious society... Store. Liability.), ask if anything else needs to be cleaned up on the aisle where the breakage occured (kids crawl around on your floors, do you want them getting glass splinters? do I need to repeat those two words? ) then tell them it's okay, it's covered. Rushing off is rude, even with an "it's okay" thrown over your shoulder as you go. And, even if customers are rude? You don't need to be! You represent the store and you are it's reputation. Right now, I'm seeing Target as unconcerned but semi-polite. As for Rite Aide.... doesn't-give-a-flying-moose would be my assessment. (yes, I will be letting corporate know my feelings... no, it won't be through their little "on-line-survey" they attach to the receipt.)

Finally, though, where do these kids learn their manners ~or lack thereof~ from, Mom & Dad? From us. The parents and adults in their lives. Now, as a not-a-parent, I only have so much influence over the kids around me. I can get my Sunday school kids to behave, to a degree, but once they're out of my class are they going to continue to behave in a manner I deem appropriate? Doubtful. They do what they know Mom & Dad let them get away with. Oh the shopping trips and dinners-out that have been ruined because of a screamer who's parent(s) only say "No, no.  Now, stop. You're not getting it. Oh, fine, here, just shut up." or words to that effect. Or just let little Sweet'ums scream their heads off. Sometimes, if I can catch Sweet'ums eye, I can give them the look my mom used to give me and a short, sharp, negative shake of my head. They aren't always sure if I have the right to tell them "no" or not but will (sometimes) stop. For awhile. Amazing.

Parents, it's up to us to teach our kids how to behave. Even to the point of being helpful to others. If we don't, they won't. Parents who give their kids everything they want believing this will achieve a desired behaviour don't realize the desired behaviour has already been achieved. By the kid. From you. They got what they wanted. And they'll grow up believing they can get whatever they want if they go about it the right (read "wrong!") way. They'll believe everyone owes them something. That people should cater to them and they shouldn't have to work for it. Oh, sure, they might get a job, but they'll complain about it the whole time one way or another. They won't give 100% on the job. They'll holler "CASHIER TO THE FRONT" as they ignore customers. They certainly won't go above and beyond at the job. They'll do juuuuuust enough to get their paycheck and that's it. And it's our fault. We trained them up that way. The Bible does tell us "train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Prov. 22:6) That applies to training him in the way he shouldn't go, too.

You can't plant a lemon tree and expect nectarines.

And you can't holler "CASHIER TO THE FRONT" and call it Customer Service.