Christmas shopping and customer service

For many of us, the next few weeks will be filled with frequent stops to our favorite malls and shopping centers to buy those special Christmas gifts. Our shopping experiences can be greatly affected by the store employees of the places we visit. I have to admit that whether I will shop at a particular place or not is not necessarily dictated by prices or store volume, but rather by how I am treated once I enter the store. Since I live in a big metropolitan area, I have choices and expect the people at these stores that I visit to do their best to make any customer feel valued. A store’s reputation can be made or broken during the Christmas season and customer service has a lot to do with it.

The other day during a shopping trip to the mall, I encountered two different situations which are prime examples of both good and bad customer service. The bad service I received was something as simple as checking out and paying for my purchase. The checkout women had the personality of a telephone pole! She didn’t even bother to say hello to me and had this look on her face that she could hardly wait until her shift was over. After the transaction was complete, she gave me a forced thank you while handing me the receipt. At that moment, I just wanted to get the heck out of the store as fast as possible. I felt very unwelcome and unappreciated. Do stores not train employees who run the cash registers about proper customer etiquette? Is it that hard to teach a person to smile and say hello? The clerks running the cash register are practically ground zero for any store’s customer service. Those individuals who are not pleasant people should not be hired to run the registers period! I personally have avoided a local major retail store because of more incidents like this.

Shortly after I bolted from the store, I went over to another retail store and my experience was a ton better! A young female clerk noticed me walking in and greeted me with a warm hello and smile, then asked me if I needed help. I said I was just looking. She did not pressure me into buying anything; only letting me know that she was available for help. When I did have questions, she was eager to help me and seemed very knowledgeable about the product that I wanted to buy. When it came time to check out, another young salesperson at the cash register was just as friendly and personable. He went out of his way to ask if I found what I was looking for and even pointed out that the product I was buying was on sale and I was saving a certain amount of money. I was totally impressed by the store’s service and their apparent willingness to put the customer first. I look forward to doing more business with them in the future and will greatly recommend them to other people.

I realize that the Christmas season is rough on those people who work retail. I used to work retail as well early in my college days so I know the feeling many of those poor people have after dealing with customers for hours. Some customers treat the store employees like dirt and that is very unfortunate. There is very little that can be done to satisfy those jerks. However, being a good customer service person is really just a matter of knowing who your real boss is, the customer. A majority of people including myself, appreciate someone who is willing to go that extra mile and not treat us like just another person who walks through the door. We are the people who make or break your store. A lot of stores like to advertise specials during this time of the year in an effort to get bring people into their stores. Specials and sales are fine, but if a store has poor customer service or a bad website for its customers, what good is that? In this day of social media, stories of bad customer service can spread like wildfire. It can greatly affect any business and their bottom line. On the other hand, a store with a reputation of good customer service is where I want to spend my hard-earned money.

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