I took yesterday off to recuperate. I did some laundry, played with the cat, caught up on some blogs and then … I had to go out and get some groceries so we’d have something to eat for the rest of the week.
The cashier at Loblaws never made eye contact. The grumpy look on her face suggested some sort of extreme intestinal distress. She slammed my groceries into my bags willy-nilly with no thought to perhaps not putting tin cans on top of the bananas. When she was through, she mumbled something and pointed vaguely at her cash register screen. I punched in my debit card stuff, grabbed my bags and left.
I know I’ve complained about customer service before, but yesterday’s experience, coming right on top of a week of friendly, impeccable service really irked me and seriously depressed me.
We’ve actually become accustomed to being treated like annoyances in our retail establishments. We’ve come to expect nothing in the way of service. We are surprised and even suspicious when a sales clerk or cashier actually speaks to us like human beings.
How did this happen? It wasn’t too long ago that the customer was “king”; that the customer was always right; that customer service was what made or broke a business.
Why are we now the pesky people who interrupt personal phone calls or intimate conversations with co-workers? Why have we become less worthy of attention and respect than the dirt the cashier scraped off her shoe that morning? Why is our custom of no value whatsoever to retailers anymore?
Are they so overwhelmed with people spending money in their establishments that they actively try to discourage more people coming through their doors? Because that’s what it feels like.
Or have they discovered that we’ll put up with anything, so retailers have decided that they can save themselves a lot of money by hiring low quality staff and paying them low wages and not training them?
Obviously a big part of the blame can be put on the business owner. Most of them don’t work in their own establishments anymore, so don’t know what goes on there. They treat their staff poorly and don’t see them as valuable assets to their business.
Another part of the blame can be put on the customer service representatives themselves. They may have a shitty job, with a shitty boss and shitty pay, but I don’t see how it serves them to make their jobs even shittier by acting like shits all day long. Customers are not going to be pleasant to people who make no effort to be pleasant themselves. Seems like common sense, doesn’t it?
The day would go by so much more quickly if sales clerks and cashiers would be nice and interact with their customers in positive ways. I’ve worked in retail type places and it can be fun to meet new people, joke around with regulars, have little human-to-human conversations with customers. Everybody’s job has shitty elements to it. At some point, if we choose to continue doing that job, we have to decide to do what we can to make the best of it, don’t we?
Sure, there are always going to be a few nasty, demanding, unreasonable customers, but why would you conduct yourself on the premise that all customers are assholes? Most people are fairly benign – amiable even, if treated well.
And what about us customers? Surely, part of the blame for this decline in customer service rests on our shoulders. They say only one in ten customers who’ve received poor service will actually complain about it. Customers will, instead, just never go back to that establishment. What’s the matter with us?
As customers we have the power to decide where we spend our money. We like going to places where they seem to like having us, don’t we? There are fewer and fewer of those places. If we don’t speak up things are just going to keep declining.
Companies and businesses think they can just keep cutting back and cutting back and we suckers will just keep on spending their money in their establishments anyway.
I complain when service is really crappy – not all the time. Most of the time no one seems to care anyway. Or they’ll say something retarded like “Well, no one else has ever complained about that before.”
Lots of times I’ll just pointedly walk out of a place – especially if it’s a big store and they only have 2 cashiers open and the lines are really long and slow. I’ll just leave my cart of stuff in line and leave. I know that probably doesn’t send much of a message.
Yesterday, I felt like saying something to that Loblaws cashier and just leaving the groceries, but I was too tired to start over at another store where the cashier would have been just as rude.
So, what to do? Do you just suck it up and keep going back for more? Have you resigned yourself to the idea that this is just the way it is and it’s just going to get worse? Is there anything really effective we, as customers, can do to turn this trend around?