iCustomer, uWrong

It is becoming increasingly clear that “nice” is, like, so yesterday.  Especially in shops.  The pretty, young things manning and womanning the cash registers of our nation think that customer service is beneath them (once I finish Uni/Tafe/Business College/Beauty School, you can bite me, ‘cos you’ll never catch ME behind a counter serving the general public! Yuk! How degrading!).

Except. It doesn’t matter what business you are in, you still have to deal with people.  And the better you are at it, the better you’ll be able to navigate all those pesky career landmines (and people that plant them) that can get in the way of that ladder climb to the corner office or red Ferrari.

I was shopping today, and supermarkets (I was at Foodland Norwood) really show up the shining stars from the lumps of coal.  I was “served” by such a lump today.  Tina was her name, but the prettiness of her name belied the surliness of her attitude.

Things were fine (which included the usual half-hearted greeting) until I noticed she hadn’t packed my frozen prawns in the cooler bag.  She had just chucked them in with general groceries (personally, I thought $20 of prawns deserved more respect).

I took them out, found the cooler bag and put them in it and said: “Why would you not pack them in the cooler bag? It’s right there.”

She proceeded to ignore me, and just kept scanning my groceries.

“Do you always ignore people who ask you questions?” I asked.

“I do when they are being rude,” was the response.

I saw red. “I was just asking a simple question. I hardly think that constitutes rudeness.”

And the next few interactions declined in tone even further. I think I ended up calling her a rude cow (actually I’m positive that I did, and I know how ironic this is given the first sentence of this post, because I was anything but nice by this stage!), and told her that I hoped Santa brought her some manners for Christmas. Checkout Chuck next to her thought the whole thing was really funny, probably because it wasn’t happening to him.

Sadly, this is a common occurrence. Everyone has similar retail war wounds they can show and tell. But what these pretty, young things don’t get is this:

  • GFCs come and go (and so do the glamourous jobs with them) but retail is forever. There are always jobs in retail.
  • How do you know that the person you were rude today isn’t the one interviewing you for that glam job tomorrow? Or will be your lecturer in that groovy course you have signed up to do? Or was your current boss’s mother/daughter/auntie etc.?
  • Sure, not everyone is a nice, but that’s just life. Deal with it. Just be nice anyway and keep your cool. Apologise, even if it’s not your fault. That’s the best defence to any vitriolic offence.
  • Big picture-wise: enough complaints could render you unemployable. You could find your inability to handle people effectively and well exceedingly career limiting.
  • And remember: the customer is always right, even if they aren’t. After all, they are the ones paying your wages.

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