Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Heads or Tails Tuesday: 7 Customer Do's and Don'ts


This week’s Heads or Tails was - 7 things from any category

If you’d like to participate or read other entries please visit Skittle’s Place

I went back to work this weekend at my second job as a sales associate for a large retailer. I had been on medical leave since December with a variety of back and leg issues that I won’t bore you all with.

As I folded the same stack of shirts for the fourth time in two hours my mind wandered. If it didn’t I would surely seriously injure a customer or kill the co-worker who is supposed to be folding, it’s technically not in my job description but the store was as dead as a doorknob (as is the co-worker’s brain) and I couldn’t look at the mess, especially with all the regional managers floating around. Business is not good and they’d rather blame us than think about the economy.

Anyhoo – it occurred to me that it was Tuesday; time takes on a new dimension when you work two jobs, and I hadn’t written anything for HoT.

So, from the perspective of a customer oriented, responsible, friendly, grown-ass sales associate, I give you 7 Do’s and Don’ts for the customer.

1 - DO ask me as many questions as you need to about the stock. I will check, I will look it up, I will call the manufacturer. DON’T ask me why the fitting room is so far away or why the mirrors are cloudy or why the parking lot has potholes. I am not the floor planner, I am not the architect, and I certainly don’t have any control over the asphalt – I have to park in a clump of dead trees three football fields away from the store.

2 – DO expect me to smile at your children and make baby talk with them, it is part of being friendly and I love kids. DON’T expect me to watch them, carry them, or clean them. And definitely DON’T catch an attitude with me after I say (for the tenth time) – “honey please don’t play with that sharp stick, you’re going to get hurt – oh and please climb down off the shelves before you fall”. When you hear me say (and I KNOW you CAN hear me) “Sweetie, go back to your Mommy” what I’m saying is, “Come get your child, you irresponsible …”

3 – DO question the price, especially when there are clearance signs everywhere saying the same thing five different ways. I know you’re confused, so am I and I work here. DON’T act as though I am out to cheat you. I don’t work on commission and even if I did why assume I’m a bad person. Didn’t I just say I would check with the scanner. Didn’t I say I would get a manager to approve honoring the lower price since the sign was in the wrong place.

4 – DO expect a pleasant shopping experience. You have come here to spend your money which is how we make a living and you should be treated nicely. DON’T think I’m your friend, your mother, your wife. I am a person doing a job – you’re in public, behave like it. DON’T scream into your cell phone while talking to me, DON’T hand me your food wrappers and tell me to throw them away, DON’T shove your shopping cart at me saying “you can put that back”. If I was your friend I’d reconsider my taste in people, if I was your mother I’d smack you and if I was your wife I’d take the freakin’ cell phone away from you and call a divorce lawyer.

5 – DO feel free to take all the time you want. Wander the shelves, sit on the sofa (which I’m not allowed to even lean against) and go through the catalog, browse all you want. I smiled at you when we first made eye contact and you looked away, then I asked if you needed any help and you looked away so I told you to let me know if and when you needed anything. So DON’T get in a huff when you finally decide you want to acknowledge that I exist by shouting out – “Can I get some help over here!”

6 – I know you DO really need an extra large, and I DO know that it has to be peachy mauve with the caplet sleeve but DON’T take the entire shelf of blouses apart after I tell you that we have extra large in twelve other colors (three of which look like peach or mauve) OR we have peachy mauve in large. Why would I lie!? DON’T you think I want you to have what you want. And DON’T you know I will need to fix that entire shelf – again.

7 – DO try on as many garments as you’d like. Our store has a much more liberal policy than most. You can take as many articles in with you as you’d like, and we don’t hire scary looking surly people to stand there and stare at you – so feel free - look and model and suck in your tummy to your heart’s delight. DON’T throw it all on the floor when you’re done. I’m sorry nothing fit but that rack that says “Please leave garments here” is actually closer to you than the floor is. And if you DO leave your mess in the fitting room, then DON’T be pissy when it’s your turn to have to use a room full of someone else’s stuff.

I will gladly clean it for you as soon as I help the little boy who is bleeding from a head wound while his mother searches for the one and only peachy mauve blouse with caplet sleeves – in extra large. She KNOWS there has to be one.

Long before I worked in retail I was a customer, and before that I was a person. It will never cease to amaze me how the lines of civil behavior get so muddied when one person is in a service position and the other one is an asshole.

And I know there are terrible sales clerks – I work with them but, as in all other facets of life, we shouldn’t paint everyone with the same brush.

Now I need a drink – I think I’ll have a 7 and 7.

33 comments:

Skittles said...

You are so funny and honest!!! I've seen these women of which you speak.. and their rotten kids, too. (I sounded just then like the witch from the Wizard Of Oz.. "and your little dog Toto, too.")

Lately where I shop there seems to be a rash of apathy going around. I would love to shop where YOU are. :)

Misty Dawn said...

Well, I commented once and it just disappeared, so I'll try again.

I hope your day tomorrow is better than it was today. It sounds like you have a really rough day. The lack of respect for other people now a days really disturbs me, and I'm sorry to hear you have been on the receiving end of that!

Shelly said...

Oh...my blood pressure just went up. My scars from 11 years as a retail clerk still haven't healed, just reading your story made me want a double G&T...my drink of choice in those days.
If it's any help at all I do intervene if a customer is treating a clerk like crap...I'll never forget the cool guy that stood up for me so many years ago by saying "hey lady, she's just doing her job...there's no reason to be such a bitch"...I wanted to hug him!

Dianne said...

I heard it just like the Wizard of Oz Skittles LOL

It's all good Misty - it doesn't really upset me for more than a moment and then I just laugh. I appreciate the kind words though - thank you :)

Dianne said...

LOL shelly - so you know exactly where I'm coming from. I enjoy a G&T these days as well. There are many lovely customers - I wrote a post a while back about an elderly lady, recently widowed, who came to the store a bit sad and confused. Thankfully it was slow that day and I spent a lot of time with her and we are friends now.

Jeni said...

Oh my yes, I do believe you hit every button there with respect to retail sales works -the good and the nasty! Especially the ones who trash the dressing rooms! Arrgh!! Been there, done that just a few years back for a major retailer and some shifts, things would flow fairly well and others -well some people you can never satisfy ya know!

Cherie said...

As the saying goes ... in every institution there's always a certain percentage of assholes. I hate jerky customers. Yup, that's right. I said it. ;) lol

I hang clothes so well that the last time I was in a shop, the sales lady jokingly asked me if I wanted a job. But one thing that I can't do is fold shirts they way that they're displayed. I am awed by your talent. But because I suck at it so much, I work really hard at not messing up the pile as I look for my size, which, of course, is always at the bottom. ;)

kenju said...

An excellent list and unfortunately, the people who need to see it probably won't. I worked in retail while I was in college and I had all the same complaints you do, but I think people are worse now than ever. I never leave clothing in the dressing room and I always button up and zip up and hang things back where they were when I got them.

SnoopMurph said...

I love your choice of topic-I found myself hoping I wouldn't find myself in your list....although I'll admit that sometimes I look at a shirt and have no clue how to refold it. I do try and many times a salesperson will come to rescue the shirt before too long.

I have seen some really unbelievable behavior from store patrons and worked in retail and been on the receiving end too. Not fun.

Raven said...

Loved it. Informative, funny and undoubtedly a good catharsis after a long day dealing with people.

Hope the drink was good.

Kerry said...

See...this is why I hate people. Just in general. I hate 'em.

Dianne said...

"some people" is right Jeni!

don't be too impressed Cherie, there are folding tables for that although once you fold a million shirts on the table your hands just know what to do. I'll never forget my first "air fold" LOL
Oh - and I started stacking the sizes backwards - larger on top, smallest on the bottom. I convinced the manager that this made much more sense since most people were larger.

Dianne said...

kenju - I do think people are worse - I think business is so bad that employees are apathetic (as Skittles said) and customers expect more and more for their money. Sad how people get caught up in cycles.

snoopmurph - I always come to the folding rescue of customers :)

It was a good catharsis Raven LOL
and the drink was wonderful - both of them!

Awww kerry - I say that all the time but I fight the feeling, there are lots of wonderful folks out there - look at all of us :)
I do admit to walking around the store muttering "people suck" but only as a breathing exercise.

Minnesotablue said...

I have seen folks that treat sales people so poorlythat it is embarassing. Also have been in dressing rooms with clothes thrown all over the floor when the rack to hang them was right there. SLOBS!

Mahala said...

Oh girl, I worked in retail forever.. I feel your pain. I do sort of miss it though, dealing with the public.

pink dogwood said...

funny and well written:)

Dianne said...

it is embarassing minnesotablue! they have no idea how awful they appear to most people around them, it's like they pollute their own karma

mahala - there's a lot I enjoy about many of the people I encounter - funny folks, odd folks, kids, sweet little elderly ladies ...

thank you pink dogwood

Lisa said...

thanks for the laughs! your blog is always such a nice reprieve.

Dianne said...

you're welcome lisa, my pleasure! glad you stopped by.

Lisa said...

Sorry you had to go back to your second job, Dianne, and that it's so trying. I'm sure you were hoping not to have to do that. . .

On the bright side, it will provide us all with a lot of laughs. :-)

I do admit to walking around the store muttering "people suck" but only as a breathing exercise.

LOL!

CG said...

This was a brilliant piece. I can really relate as I'm a librarian and we get very similar customers!!!

bundle-o-contradictions said...

Bravo!!! **applause** I think everyone in some form of customer service has a similar list. (I do somewhere in my archive...) Most people start out in some form of customer service in their early job lives, you'd think they'd remember what it was like & behave accordingly...or at least their mothers should have taught them. Oooh...my Poor Hubby has that nasty habit of asking employees to throw his soda cans/cups/bottles away. From now on, I'll offer to hold it until we find a can. You sure sound a heck of a lot more friendly than I've come to be & you have my admiration! Good luck.

Dianne said...

it's not so bad lisa, not as many shifts as I was doing last time!

and yes - it is an endless source of blog material - perhaps I'll write the great american retail expose!

oh cg, they can't behave in a library!? with all those lovely books! that's awful.

that's the key bundle-o - people must have empathy in order to remember to behave. LOL about your hubby and his soda can - I'd see you take it from him and I'd offer to throw it away for you :)

Sleepypete said...

I do admit to walking around the store muttering "people suck" but only as a breathing exercise.

Lol - that made me grin too :-)

I quite happily avoided working in retail, although I can definitely sympathise with what people will expect ...

I'm seen as some sort of IT guru at work because I tend to go nuts checking out new IT stuff, so I see all the problems and fix them usually one step ahead of the horde looking for the same answers. So everyone comes to me when they need their hand holding through something.

I can maintain my sense of humour most of the time but we have one or two that make my head explode. I've also avoided working in IT support, which must be close to the retail level for having to cope with muppets ...

There's probably something on Google somewhere that says "Working with customers requires the patience of a saint and a place to hide all the dead bodies."

Michael Manning said...

I can now laugh at the reasons my mother had to stop taking me to the mall! :D)) I thought it was great fun to pretend to be lost so I could hear my name paged over the public address system, along with a description of what my mother was wearing! She still remembers it well!!

emily said...

Well put! And whether you are a consumer or service provider it is amazing the behaviors you see every day from people! WHERE ARE OUR MANNERS?!?! Common Courtesy! Respect! I do not understand it at all!

Dianne said...

"...which must be close to the retail level for having to cope with muppets ..."
Oh sleepypete I feel your pain! I used to manage a department of entry clerks and the IT guys would come to me and point at one of the entry operators and just say "please kill that one"

You misbehaved at the mall Michael!? What is it about malls that makes kids go bonkers - sensory overload perhaps. My son was about 5 and got lost in the mall, when I walked up to security to collect him he told them I wasn't his Mother! Yes, he has a wonderful sense of humor and irony.

It does boggle my mind sometimes Emily. The day is so much nicer if you're just civil - why is that so hard?

Skittles said...

You've been tagged with the Crazy 8's meme!

tt said...

Well said!!
7&7...that's my all time favorite!! Only I call it Necture of the Gods...yummy-yummy....

And 2 jobs? That sucks. Sorry about that... it is what it is though, right? hang in there.
Cheers!

Sparkling Red said...

It's all so true. I hardly ever have to deal with customers directly in my job, but they still get me with their incredibly overblown sense of entitlement.

Dianne said...

I'll check out Crazy 8's as soon as I can skittles :)

Nectar of the Gods!! Oh Yes indeed tt - yes indeed. thanks for the caring comment - 2nd job is what it is! I need it when my business is slow.

"... incredibly overblown sense of entitlement." that's a brilliant way to put it sparkling red

lisa said...

"perhaps I'll write the great american retail expose!"

Now all you need is a hidden camera. ;-)

Odat said...

Too funny! I give you tons of credit for doing that job!!
Peace