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I was reading through a number of old posts and something struck me. How often people blame poor customer service for something that happened at a store. I have worked in many jobs that require direct contact with customers for a very long time and I am always astonished by how rude, stupid and condescending customers can be and how often you hear the comment, "if I owned this company,.......". Let me lay out a little advice.

 

Rule #1 Just because the person behind the counter works in retail doesn't mean that they are stupid, uneducated, in a lower social class or beneath you. If you treat them that way, they are very disinclined to assist you, and may just choose to do something to teach you a lesson that you justly deserve.

 

Rule # 2 If you come in expecting and looking for a fight you will most likely get one and that is about all. A customer that has a ligitement complaint and is polite and considerate of the clerk is much more likely to get what they want and more. A rude customer will likely get the minimum or less and may even walk out empty handed.

 

Rule # 3 Don't do something stupid. The sales people will laugh their *****'s off at you after you leave. Example: Pay attention to what is being said - "Can I help you?" ---"No, but I have a question." Frigin really! I will run out and find the nonhelping questions person!

 

"Do you work here?" Heck no, I always wear this stupid shirt with the company name on it and have this lanyard embossed with company name on it around my neck and the company ID tag on it and the company hat and hang around here just to annoy idiots like you.

 

You didn't buy it here, do you think I am stupid enough to let you return it here. See rule #1

 

Rule # 4 - If you have to tell someone you are a good customer, you probably are not. Just because you have been there before doesn't make you a good customer. A good customer is someone who knows the business and the sales people, who comes in frequently, and drops by to look at what is new. A good customer also know what kind of product they sell. Don't look for bagels in a donut shop! Most importantly, this place of business is their first stop when they go looking for something. And last - they spend money there.

 

One final bit. Almost without exception - the person who you are talking to isn't the owner and they don't make the rules. Chances are breaking the rules will cost them their job. Keep that in mind before you start the "If I owned this business..." rant. They don't own it either so get off that horse. It ain't going anywhere.

 

The best way to get good customer service is to be a good customer. Leave the belligerence at home.

 

OK, I'm off the soap box.

Edited by PeteJ
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ROTFLMAO!!! That is a different way of looking at it from the other side of the counter, LOL!!!!

Edited by TheDude
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I followed your "good customer" guidelines upon my 3rd (or 4th...can't remember now) visit to the local tax office in an attempt to buy a license plate for my trailer.

Being twice turned away (for insufficient documentation and with no detailed explanation as to how to resolve that insufficiency or an exact description of what was missing) I decided to visit the State office (the above activity was at a local "county" level) I learned that I, indeed, had sufficient paperwork and I was given a series of questions, prompts-if you will, to ask the counter worker that would steer the "locals" toward a successful conclusion to my visit.

 

I stood in line for a bit over an hour (for the 3rd or 4th time) and ended up being rejected by the counter worker (knew that would happen) so I asked for the shop supervisor by name (one of the tidbits of advice from the State folks) Turns out it was the same lady who had already sent me packing on my previous visits, but this time she had been contacted by the State and informed of the proper procedures.(The State folks called her and explained the situation to her via telephone during my State visit). Badda-bing!

 

I was mindful that courtesy would go much farther than hostility and in about 90 minutes (after the obligatory dancing between lines awaiting my turn) I walked out with a license plate! The ladies realized that they had, indeed, failed to look at the 5x7 card (the documentation fits on a 5x7 form) and could easily have provided the desired licensing on my first visit, but they simply didn't bother looking at the documentation. I had learned (my visit to the State office) what to point out on that form and that did the trick.

 

End result was that my sterotyped view of the county tax assesser's office was confirmed, They are not nasty, evil, or stupid, but neither are they interested in providing "customer service" at a high level. They are not problem solvers. If the situation is complex they simply shut down and tell you to visit a website or call a help line. I blew about 4 to 5 hours over a 5 day period waiting in lines in two different locations, and with some simple courtesy and recently acquired knowledge of the documentation and process, was able to show the supervisor just where on the form the bit of info was that was needed, and what the next step was in order to facilitate my request.

 

There's a big difference between the retail side of the equation and dealing with folks in a government office. Retail has a self-interest in good customer relations and government offices do not have that goal at the same level of importance or significance. But in both offices I found it beneficial to the sucessful completion of my mission to work with the counter worker on a one-on-one basis, and to be courteous and polite. I agree with your observation that obnoxious behavior on the part of the customer is inappropriate and negative. It boils down to how one wants to project oneself to others. Obnoxious and negative behavior says volumes about the person exhibiting such behavior and does absolutely nothing to resolve the problem.

(I love the line about the worker wearing the company T shirt and being asked if he works in the store! That's a riot!....and it happens!)

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I don't think the question aimed at the guy wearing the store shirt is a matter of asking if the person works there or not. I believe it is more of a rhetorical opening greeting used as a conversation starter to begin the process of asking for help. It also gives the customer an "out" if that person doesn't work there but is just wearing a shirt similar to store employees.

 

It's like asking the guy in the Home Depot apron, "Can you help me?" It's like, duh, that's what he's there for and the person asking knows this, but the question is asked as a matter of courtesy. It sounds better than "Hey you in the orange, show me where the nails are."

 

Think about that the next time a paying customer asks you if you work there or not. Not all people are comfortable asking total strangers for assistance. My 18 yr old daughter is mortified to go up to the counter at McDonald's and tell them they made her burger wrong. She sent her 15 yr old brother who has no such issues.

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The best yardstick of customer service is how long the business has been around. If you don't treat your customers right, you won't be around long. There are exceptions to this of course, but not many.

 

I work in IT customer service, so when I am looking for help I know how to deal with the person at the other end on the desk\phone\etc. They just want to be given some respect, and unless they do something to lose that respect, they should be given it.

 

In my field you are dealing with someone who needs your help quickly, and it's a very fine line to walk with users as they sometimes feel stupid and assume you think they are stupid because they had to call you....in most cases this is 100% true :smiley13: , but I have gotten quite adept over the years at making them feel comfortable with seeking help.

 

The reality of it is that there are really bad customers and really bad customer service.

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I don't think the question aimed at the guy wearing the store shirt is a matter of asking if the person works there or not. I believe it is more of a rhetorical opening greeting used as a conversation starter to begin the process of asking for help. It also gives the customer an "out" if that person doesn't work there but is just wearing a shirt similar to store employees.

 

It's like asking the guy in the Home Depot apron, "Can you help me?" It's like, duh, that's what he's there for and the person asking knows this, but the question is asked as a matter of courtesy. It sounds better than "Hey you in the orange, show me where the nails are."

 

Think about that the next time a paying customer asks you if you work there or not. Not all people are comfortable asking total strangers for assistance. My 18 yr old daughter is mortified to go up to the counter at McDonald's and tell them they made her burger wrong. She sent her 15 yr old brother who has no such issues.

 

"Can you help me? or Are you availible?" is much preferable to Do you work here? Why? Because the first two are a polite way to ask if the person is involved in something else. My typical response is either "yes, I would be happy to." or " I will be with you as soon as I am done with this customer. Under the discribed conditions "Do you work here?" smacks of sarcasim and that is no way to open a conversation.

 

The point of this rant is not to give excuse to the rude store clerk, but to point out that retail is a tough job to work at and in my experience, I see far more rude customers than I do store staff. Polite customers are really a pleasure to work with and are much more likely to get good service.

 

My point here is to kind of turn the tables a bit. Everyone seems to have a story about poor customer service but I have never seen any comments before about the other side of the counter. I thought it was time to present tales for the other side.

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I used to help out a friend when he ran a model railroad shop, and still work some shows with him, and yes, customers can be rude, inconsiderate, and thoughtless. But that doesn't excuse poor behavior on the part of employees. I can't tell you the number of times I've walked into a small store (not necessarily a hobby shop, but even some of those) where the clerk behind the counter barely looks in my direction, never mind offers a greeting or an offer to help. I've actually been in a couple of places where two or three clerks were behind the counter, talking amongst themselves, and completely ignored me the entire time I was in the store. They didn't get any of my money that day, and I haven't been back since.

 

If you treat them that way, they are very disinclined to assist you, and may just choose to do something to teach you a lesson that you justly deserve.

That becomes a self-correcting problem. Teach enough people a lesson, and you won't have to worry about dealing with customers.

 

A good customer also know what kind of product they sell.

The same applies to a good employee. Too many times I've asked questions about a product, or if they carry a particular item, and the employee looks at me like I've asked him to explain quantum mechanics.

 

Don't look for bagels in a donut shop!

A couple of times a week, I get a bagel and coffee at Dunkin Donuts...

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Moose- you missed the point. Please reread the post before yours. This is not about excusing impolite behavior on the part of store staff. There is certianly enough of that and it is inexcusable in many cases. It is to point out that just because a customer has money in their pocket, it doesn't excuse rude behavior. A point too often lost on the public. There are certian behaviors which will engender a negetive response because of human nature. Even the best sales staff can get burned out by rude, selfrighteous, arrogant people doing stupid things. After all, they are human just like the person on the other side of the counter. If a person gets treated poorly often, a good hard look in the mirror would be in order. A little more coutesy in the world would make life much more pleasant for all.

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Therein lies the problem, anyone can take issue with just about anything someone says. It's the PC world in which we live in. If you want to see sarcasm or condescending subtlties in how someone asks you for help, you're going to see it, regardless of if it was there or not or if it was intentional or not. Personally, I don't think I consciously think about how I ask for help. Whether it's an "Excuse me, do you work here?", "Can you help me?" or just a flat out "Where do you keep the screwdrivers?" I don't mean to offend, confront, belittle, inconvenience or otherwise interrupt your day, I just want to buy the item I'm looking for and be on my way. Believe me, I'd much rather spot it on the shelf on my own, pick it up and walk to the checkout counter without asking for assistance. I tend to think the majority of folks who may ask you for help aren't doing so to insult you.

 

Somehow you see the way someone asks you for help as some sort of insult. I don't know you (or any other store clerk) from Adam, don't want to insult you, and don't want to bother you beyond taking your time to ring up my purchase. Heck, if I use the self checkout at Home Depot or Walmart, I can be on my way without even bothering the employees to ring me up.

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Humor helps, on both sides of the isle. Usually, when I'm trying to track down something in a store, I'll ask an employee "If I were a (fill in the blank thingI'm looking for), where would I choose to hide from somebody looking to tear me away from all my friends on the shelves and carry me off to a strange place?" Occasionally I get a blank, "huh?" look, but eventually I get a smile and more often than not, an escort to the merchandise I'm looking for...

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Therein lies the problem, anyone can take issue with just about anything someone says. It's the PC world in which we live in. If you want to see sarcasm or condescending subtlties in how someone asks you for help, you're going to see it, regardless of if it was there or not or if it was intentional or not. Personally, I don't think I consciously think about how I ask for help. Whether it's an "Excuse me, do you work here?", "Can you help me?" or just a flat out "Where do you keep the screwdrivers?" I don't mean to offend, confront, belittle, inconvenience or otherwise interrupt your day, I just want to buy the item I'm looking for and be on my way. Believe me, I'd much rather spot it on the shelf on my own, pick it up and walk to the checkout counter without asking for assistance. I tend to think the majority of folks who may ask you for help aren't doing so to insult you.

 

Somehow you see the way someone asks you for help as some sort of insult. I don't know you (or any other store clerk) from Adam, don't want to insult you, and don't want to bother you beyond taking your time to ring up my purchase. Heck, if I use the self checkout at Home Depot or Walmart, I can be on my way without even bothering the employees to ring me up.

 

 

You misunderstand. It doesn't happen that frequently, so when it does, it really stands out. As I mentioned these are the four or five percent of the population. Most of our customers we love and are great to help. No sales person in their right mind would have a problem with assisting customers, especially in a commission only department. My pointing these things out is meant to help people increase the possibility of a positive interaction. Would you not like to do that?

 

Just as a point of reference, I work in the appliance section so the probability of you getting one of those suckers out the door by your self is a little unlikely. Second, we have a standard that everyone who walks into the department gets greeted within 10 seconds. There are occasions when someone comes in and doesn't get greeted because all sales people are busy and has to ask for assistance. This is where the "Can I assist you? No, but I have a question." comes in. We are all so conditioned to say "no" when asked if we can be helped that we can't help ourselves. But when it happens it is very funny to the sales people.

 

If I come across as a crotchety old curmudgeon that is not the part of my modus operandi. I spent many years as a manager and as such, you are almost always dealing with customers who are unhappy. Like a policeman who deals daily with the criminal element all the time ,it tends to taint your view of people in general. Being able to successfully deal with the disappointed customer is an art. However, it doesn't preclude you from knowing a lot of great stories about people and developing some concept of how to improve the likelihood of getting what you want. Again, that is what this is about. Pulling the old mirror out of the closet and giving those who have never stood behind the counter a glimpse of what goes on and perhaps getting them to modify their behavior so they can improve the likelihood of having a better customer experience. As I said before, this is an interaction with two people. If one party enters the interaction with a hostile, negative or combative attitude, it does not bode well for a positive outcome.

Edited by PeteJ
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All I'm saying is sometimes when a person is asking for help (however they may phrase it) that's all they are doing, nothing insidious or sinister. They just want help with their purchase.

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