I’ll take the next customer (in my own line, that is). #customerservice #retail

Don’t tell me how to do my job. Obviously I’m not referring to my supervisors (most of the time) or people assigned to train me on certain new aspects of said job. I’m referring to customers. That may seem like a harsh sentiment to take with the people who ultimately are the ones that feed my paycheck. I try to be as accommodating as I can to people. But they aren’t my boss. And I’m taking advantage of the fact that I don’t name where I work with this blog so I have some level of anonymity. Besides, I’m willing to bet that anybody that knows me personally that might be reading this is or was a co-worker and probably shares these same sentiments. I can’t say these things to customers directly, so I’ll air my grievances here. Maybe this will get to them eventually if I can get these ideas out into the world.

What’s really on my mind is one incident that happened at work today. I say “incident” but it’s minor; I didn’t carry a grudge with this woman all day. I’m not really as angry about this as today’s blog post might seem, nor do I feel as strongly about it. Still, it got me thinking enough that I might have something for today’s post. Today I had to run the service desk at the store where I work. Generally speaking the person running the desk isn’t supposed to ring regular sales through but we had lines and were shorthanded so I yelled out my standard “I can’t take somebody on register one.” It got the lines down and there shouldn’t have been a problem.

However, as I walked past one of the counters afterwards a customer complained to me that I should have offered to “take the next customer in line” instead. She said that when I said what I did the people waiting at the end of the lines went right through me when she was waiting for a while. She left saying that it was a suggestion and I said I would keep it in mind. I did yell something like that throughout the rest of the day but it still stuck with me how annoying this was.

My problem wasn’t that she was annoying or that she told me what to do. Okay, I did have a problem with those things. But what really got me was that I completely disagreed with her. It’s not my problem who I take next. That’s between the customers. I’m not going to boss them around. The person behind her might still go to me first. I’m not going to push him aside to take her. It happens all the time no matter what I say. That’s why I leave it open-ended. If you want to go next, speak up for yourself. I grant you that the woman’s suggestion may sound better to customers but I offer that it doesn’t really change anything.

Also, why is everybody in such a rush when they’re shopping anymore? I can understand in certain situations, like grocery shopping that you feel that you have to do, especially if there’s a storm coming, that you need to get out of the store in a hurry. But I can’t imagine that we have anything in our little department store that’s so urgent. One shouldn’t shop there if they aren’t prepared to shop at a leisurely pace. That’s not to say that we won’t help you when we can. But on a more general level, I’m getting tired of shopping feeling so hurried. I like to go in and out like the next person, but when I go into a store like that I’m prepared to wait in line. I have to think that the convenience of Internet shopping, while I partake in it myself, has made people impatient in public.

I brought up that last point with a co-worker once who said he blames fast-food establishments. That makes sense but I remembered that when I used to eat meat I’ve waited in many a line at McDonald’s. I’m not sure who might be right. Maybe we both are. But I think we’re onto something. If I cared enough I’d do a study of it some day. I don’t.

This isn’t to say that if I had enough register-trained associates on hand I wouldn’t call them up to take everybody at once. Of course I would. It’s that reason I got on register myself. But I’m paid to be the cashiers’ supervisor. I’m not going to herd customers.

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