Wednesday, December 28, 2011 4:31:06 AM
Doesn't matter if you're in a phone bank somewhere, in retail, even in manufacturing somewhere. The name of the game is to keep whoever pays the bills happy, and for most of us that person or group of people can be called "the customer(s)". In manufacturing, that translates to having a quality product that people will buy, the rest of us deal with the customer in a more direct fashion. (Okay, maybe bureaucrats have no incentive to keep people happy - we don't get to choose not to pay their bills. But other than that ...)
I am currently involved in retail, it's no big secret. No, you don't get a commission working in frozen food ... but it's not like I had any sort of direct incentive when I was delivering newspapers either. My current employer does have a form of profit-sharing where I get a quarterly bonus based on how the store as a whole did, but in any case I'm not actually paid more based on my customer service. However for me I just like to try to make people happy, that's as much of the reason why I'm still here on My Opera 9 years later as anything. (Opera doesn't pay me, though I do get the occasional Christmas gift and whatnot.) I live for, well, things like this, and I'm sure Opera appreciates it too.
Of course, 99% of the people who go through the store in any given week probably never interact with anyone except the cashier and door greeter - they just pop in, grab what they are looking for and check out. But yes, the people who unload the freight or stock shelves (stocking shelves is about half of my job) or even keep the floor clean are all contributing to their positive experience, even if they never saw us.
Sometimes it isn't that easy though. Maybe a customer can't reach something on the shelf (shelves are too high, or maybe they have an injury or disability), or maybe the item they want isn't on the shelf. Or they just can't find it. I have a slight disadvantage, I'm easier to find than the people in the main grocery part of the store. (Not sure if it's because I'm the one wearing the coat in July or what, but ...) I get people asking me where, oh, the Monster energy drink is or something else completely unrelated to my area.
Now okay, we can all laugh at some of the things that happen. A lady walks up to me and asks if we carry the frozen White Castle hamburgers. Just by coincidence I'd been working in the section right next to that, since she's standing next to me I tell her they're in the door in front of her. Amusing in its fashion, but I know the only reason she was there is because that's where I was. No doubt she'd looked around and missed them, it's just a humorous coincidence.
No, I mean like a while ago I had someone ask where the pierogies were. (for some reason the spell checker doesn't like that, but I know it's correct) I said I'd show her, she said I didn't have to do that - I could just tell her and she'd find them. I said "No you wouldn't, we have people walk by them every day without finding them." When I took her there and pointed them out she agreed, she'd never have seen them.
People are not stupid - generally anyway - and in neither of those stories would I have considered the person asking to be so. In a few cases (like that first one) it is difficult to phrase your answer in a way that doesn't make them think they look stupid. You try the best you can, but you have to answer the question don't you?
One of the first things I heard when I was taking education classes was "There's no such thing as a dumb question." I'm not completely sure I agree, I'm sure there are "questions" where the person isn't looking for a serious answer that would qualify. Barring that, the dumbest question is the one that didn't get asked. As long as you actually want an answer, the question deserves a serious response. Dave (the customer in the original article) deserved a serious response, that's the one thing he didn't get - well, okay, besides his controller ... he hadn't (yet) gotten that either.
There's a saying, "The customer is always right." That's not really true - if you come into my store wanting me to give you stuff and not having to pay for it, that's not right. The store had to pay for that stuff, we can't just give it away. Or getting back to the earlier metaphor, that doesn't pay my bills. But as long as you are paying my bills, I should do whatever I can to keep you coming back - to keep you happy. Apparently there are a few people out there who can't get something as simple as that.