Friday, July 29, 2005

great moments in retail, part one

I've been a waitress and restaurant hostess. I've worked in museums. For goodness sakes', I'm an experienced parish priest. So I know something about the trials about "working with the public." (Can we talk about phone calls that begin with "can I speak to the pastor?")

But I lost it yesterday in the line of a well-known craft/chain store. The young woman who was working the register had not exactly set any speed records for opening her line, and was rather desultorily (I love having a chance to use that word) ringing up my set of purchases when the woman at the other register (who notice, wasn't working at all) started asking questions about the schedule. My checker didn't even say "excuse me" but got involved with the conversation, then set down my item and picked up the schedule to solve this burning issue.

"How about you finish dealing with me first?" It popped out of my mouth, I'm not sure where from.

She set the schedule back down and finished ringing me up. I was exceedingly polite--that was, after all, what the whole encounter was about.

What I've reflected on since then is that the voice that pops out and stands up for me often comes from a place I'm not aware of. It happened to me at the RSCM course, when I needed to take an action to rein in a wayward adult at Eucharist.

(And, I have to admit, I don't mind standing up for better customer service, either).


At 4:34 PM, Blogger Annie said...

You've managed to remind me of an incident that happened a couple of days ago. I applied the term lethargic when I was complaining to my son about the incident (But I like the term desultory, too!). Sometimes I wonder what food additive is causing this listless, unhurried, unfriendly, d'oh factor in the younger generation! Anyway, if I can get him to help me get the right voice going, I'll blog about it.


At 1:34 PM, Blogger geebrooke said...

when I needed to take an action to rein in a wayward adult at Eucharist.

Okay, we're going to get to hear about this, too, right? My imagination is filling in with some implausible scenarios.

My wife, herself a retail sales associate, is dealing with a thoughtless-customer habit these days: people (usually old enough to know better) approaching her counter with a phone in their ear, yakking steadily while they JAB their fingers at items they want to see. So far, Michelle has gotten away with turning her back on this species of annoyance.

At 2:07 PM, Blogger Emily said...

Brooke, Michelle has my total sympathy. And I hate when my quiet browsing space at a bookstore is invaded by people on same instrument of torture, as well.

I'll have to think about how to tell the story of the Eucharist. It probably sounds more intriguing via euphemism than it actually was.

At 8:53 PM, Blogger Dawgdays said...

The word that comes to mind is "justice". In a service industry, treating a customer in the way Emily was is rude, disrespectful and unjust.

However, for a customer to treat an employee as Michelle has been treated is also rude, disrespectful and unjust.

What was it Jesus tried to teach us?

At 9:57 PM, Blogger Cathy said...

Oh, I have just posted about retail service at a not so local yarn shop the other day - I was so polite, but vowed not to walk in there again. I got what I needed and walked out. I wonder if I should have expressed my unhappiness to the owner, who was the culprit of it all? Don't think it would have made a difference at all with her. Interesting posting.

At 10:05 PM, Blogger Emily said...

Hi Cathy,

I saw your post and thought she had just completely missed the point of retail. It's not to make the one sale--it's to make somebody a committed customer of your store. She's saved a few pennies, but I'm sure she's going to pay in the long run by not honoring the sign (and being rather rude about it as well, whisking the sign away in front of you).


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