My thoughts on customer service, things we wish we could tell the people behind the cash register

The only *real* paying jobs I have had have been working in customer service or retail positions.
While I have a bachelor's degree {that I am quite proud of} I have made the choice to stay at home with my children and that has meant that I haven't sought out a paying career in my field.
With five years of experience, in an industry that we come in contact with nearly every day, I want to share my thoughts to you.  
They are worth what you are paying for them.

1. Don't ask me if you don't care
I was at Target the other day and was in a line three customers deep.
I heard this particular cashier ask each person in the most monotone voice "how are you doing today?"
The woman in front of me said she was o.k.
Which I think is an honest statement.
Most of us reply with "I'm good" because we all know, the cashier is not your therapist.
However, this cashier had the opportunity to engage this customer but replied back with the same standard reply "that's good."
The cashier obviously didn't care but was saying what she thought was the standard chit chat that you are supposed to say.
Honestly, I wish she hadn't said anything since it felt so disingenuous. 
Also, it's a dead giveaway that you don't care when you repeat the question again to me.

2. When I am at the register, please don't ask me if I found everything o.k.
This mostly applies at large chain stores or at the grocery store.
It's become my newest pet peeve.
Seriously, if I am in line at Wal-Mart and have been waiting for my turn for 20 minutes, and then get to the register and the cashier asks me if I found everything o.k., what am I supposed to say?
If I say no, what are they going to do about it?
The cashier, who does not work on commission, is not going to leave her post and hunt down whatever thing a ma bob I couldn't find in your six acre super store.

3. Know what you are selling
My husband hates customer service employees.
He usually does a ton of research on his own before buying a product
{it took us three years to settle on the perfect mini van}
He doesn't want an employee who knows nothing about the product they are selling, 
to give him a sales pitch he doesn't care about, so that he can buy a product he isn't interested in.
He also hates walking into Home Depot and some 16 year old kid who hasn't touched a hammer in his whole life is trying to explain how to weld together pipe fittings for a plumbing project when this kid can barely flush the toilet on his own {just ask his mom}.

4. Don't answer a call when a live person is standing in front of you
Is this not the most frustrating thing ever???
I have been tempted more than once as I stand in a huge long customer service line to just call the front desk of the line that I am standing in.
I'm more apt to get faster service.

5. Where are all of the employees?
I'm usually fairly self sufficient in a store, but when I need to find something, I want to be able to find someone who can help me.
Just last week, I was shopping in a new H&M outlet store looking for some shoes for my son.
Every size but the size we needed was out and in my attempt to find a sales person, the only person I found working, was working the register with a line seven people deep.
I have real money that I want to spend on real products in your store.
It would be nice if you would help me be available to do that on my own terms.
Is that too much to ask?

6. Don't ignore me
I get it, working retail is probably not your life long career dream.
You are putting in your time and getting a pay check, that's admirable, 
but please don't ignore me while I am standing there wanting to spend money while you chat it up about your drunk weekend with your co-worker.

7.Call for back up
I hate lines.
I have no patience for them.
If you have a store full of employees restocking and a line full of customers waiting to be rung up,
 please call for back up.
Or, if you are on the register, yet you walk to the back side of the store leaving the only register empty, it's annoying standing there waiting for you to return.
I don't know where you went or how long you will be.
8. Don't try to pronounce my last name
Don't get me wrong, it's nice when the barista's at Starbucks know your order and call you by name, butt at least once a week, I go the same grocery store and have for the past three years and each time I go, the cashier reads my last name from the bottom of the receipt, butchers it and I have to smile and thank them politely for thanking Ms. Toderro {it's Teodoro} for coming in.
It would be one thing, if they attempted to remember my last name and use it the next time they saw me, but there is no effort there and each week, they waste my precious minutes waiting for them to look at my receipt, squint at my name like it's finally going to come to them and sound out my name and then proceed to call me by something that remotely sounds like it could be my last name.
Don't bother.
It goes back to number 1
I know this list is very one sided. 
I'm sure the customer service employees have a list a mile long of things they just don't get paid enough to deal with.

Hmmm...sounds like a good follow up post.
Did I miss anything that you would add?


Dara @ Not In Jersey said...

I hate when they ask me if I found everything ok. I've always wondered what would happen if I said no.

Lauren said...

The only store that I don't mind them asking if I found everything is Publix. It's a grocery store chain in the south and they are known for their outstanding service. They will leave whatever they are doing to walk across the store to help you get to something (and they know where it is!!). Whenever they ask how I am or if they can help me find something, they are very genuine. This wasn't supposed to be an ode to Publix, but it is the only chain I would give 5 stars to on service.

Carolyn said...

I hate those conversations about their drunk weekends by employees. As a former manager in retail, I tried to break it up whenever I saw it happen.
Going along with the answering phone (which if they have to, please say "hello... please hold"), don't chit chat with your fellow employee while you are ringing me out. Pay attention to what you are doing because I hate waiting for you to call your manager to fix your problem because you weren't paying attention.
From the employee side, if I am the only one working that night please understand and be patient where there are 10 customers in the store. I really am trying hard to answer all your questions and help each one of you. And it is not my fault if you didn't return the item when you should have (last year!), we don't carry it anymore and is company policy that I can't take it back. I have horror stories from my retail days, haha.

Miranda DeZeeuw said...

I have said no to the "Did you find everything okay?" question at Meijer and the cashier asked me what it was and when I told her that they were completely out of stock of the thing I wanted, when I usually buy three at a time, she called over a manager who then wrote me a rain check for the item.

I've also said no at Costco and then they got an employee to check the computer to find out when they would have more.

Tara R. Alemany said...

In college, I worked at a McDonald's drive-thru window for one semester. I was taught a simple courtesy that I still look for in every cashier I come to.

If I'm paying with cash and I have change due to me, put the coins in my hand first, then the bills on top. For whatever reason, almost everyone puts the coins on top. But that makes it difficult to control them, as I have to remove them to do anything with the bills, and they have a tendency to drop, roll and otherwise scatter. Put the coins in the palm of my hand and then I can grasp them (keeping control over them) while while folding the bills. Voila la! No runaway change!

lora said...
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