I like shopping. I like to shop for other people; the challenge of unearthing gifts which will bring someone pleasure is exciting. I love shopping for myself, too, especially where gadgets are concerned.
One of the phenomena which will transform a tedious shopping experience into an enthralling one is GCS. Good Customer Service. Not only will GCS trigger my evolution into a complete and happy shopper, but it will create out of me a loyal customer; I will go out of my way to return to that specific store, even if it costs me time and/or money. Conversely, an unpleasant customer service experience will ensure I never return to an establishment, despite its closer proximity to my home, or its inexpensive merchandise.
So, for a retailer seeking to gain an additional, loyal customer, ready to divest of his disposable income (and occasionally beyond), here are some do's and don'ts:
DON'T IGNORE ME:
If I'm standing at the counter, say 'Hello'. Even if you're busy replacing the tape in the cash machine, clearing the counter of whatever leftover rubble is strewn about from the previous sale; even if you are on the phone. A simple 'Be right with you' or, 'It won't be long' goes a long way toward acknowledging my time is as important to you as it is to me. No greeting at all is like answering the door at your home and standing there, saying nothing.
DON'T COMPLAIN TO ME ABOUT HOW BUSY YOU ARE:
I don't care. Aren't you supposed to be busy? Isn't it good to be a busy retailer? It's one thing to have your hands full and to let me know you'll help me as soon as you complete whatever transaction you may be in the middle of, but, when I ask a question, never sigh and say 'Sir, we're very busy.' We're all very busy; the difference is, at this moment, you're collecting a salary to be busy.
DO GET OUT FROM BEHIND THE COUNTER, AND SHOW ME WHERE MY ITEM IS:
Especially if I've been searching based on your first instruction, and returned for further guidance instead of simply leaving the store. Obviously, due either to my own thickness or your inaccurate communication, I still haven't located the item for which I would like to give you my money. Please, come out from behind your retail bunker, and walk me down the aisle. Treat me as you would an inept family member...scratch that, treat me better.
DO PUT DOWN THE PHONE:
The customer in front of you, with debit, or credit card, or cash in their hand is more important than the person on the other end of your carcinogenic cell phone line, especially if that person is a buddy, or girlfriend, and not a customer at all. At the very least, if you refuse to end the conversation, put the phone down, and pick it up once I've left...unless, of course, I'm that caller. Then, please give me your full attention; I’ll be concise with my question, and you may then serve the person in front of you...;-)
DON'T CHARGE ME FOR A BAG:
Really? I'm paying full retail price for this gift, and suddenly, under the guise of some sort of Al Gore hero worship, you're adding a charge of a nickel, or a dime, or a dollar for a bag you had shipped overseas from a sweatshop in China at a cost of $0.001 per unit? Never mind, I’ll find a store which includes in its pricing an implement with which I can carry my item from the store.
DON'T ASK THE MANAGER:
Know your merchandise, know your policies, brush up on what online gift certificates and coupons for your store look like, know your return policy. In short: be informed. This way, I don't have to wait for you for page the manager who's busy with someone else and won't hear your page until the second time you've sent it, and which you will only send after I point out to you: 'It's been ten minutes...is it possible your manager didn't hear your page?'
DON'T ROLL YOUR EYES:
When I ask a question toward the end of your shift, don't make me feel like I'm a burden. I know you're tired, your feet hurt, and working with the public (i.e. me!) is never easy at the best of times, much less during the holiday season. But you're paid for a shift which lasts from its beginning until its end. During that time you are on the job; part of that job is being happy serving the needs of your customers.
Ok, this goes out to a specific sales lady I've recently encountered. She approached the counter rubbing what remained of her Aloe Vera cream between her fingers; no problem; the winter season is dry, and hopefully this application is indicative of frequent hand washing: always appreciated when handling merchandise. But, once her hands had absorbed what they could, she proceeded to massage the rest into her face and neck. Is this the sight I must behold before our transaction? An Aloe Vera facial? For several seconds there was no greeting, no 'hello', no 'I'll be with you as soon as I'm moist'. Nothing. Just a rubbing so thorough it would impress dry sticks around a dark campfire. Next time, finish your moistening in the back room. And, while there, dig out the thing I'm about to ask you for which is no longer on display in front. That way you won't have to page somebody to go look for it.