Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The basics of customer service etiquette...

Is it just me or does good customer service seem to have fallen by the wayside these days?

Whether you're at Target, the grocery store or even a fast-food restaurant, it's almost as if there's a national contest to see who can be the rudest employee ever.

On that note, I feel like it's my responsibility to outline the key factors to providing excellent customer service...sarcasm included, free of charge.

-- Eye contact: When a customer comes up to the check-out counter, mumbling to him or her "Hi, how are you?", all the while avoiding eye contact isn't exactly what I would call friendly or welcoming.

No, that's what I would call "avoidant personality disorder". Please refer to the DSM IV - TR for more information, if you're so inclined...although I wouldn't be surprised to learn that you're already aware of this disorder.

Maybe a job in customer service was a poor choice, you think? Perhaps you'd feel more comfortable being a zoo keeper.

Apes and tigers aren't as judgmental as humans are. Sure, you'd have to deal with monkeys throwing their crap at you all day long and you probably stand a good chance of losing a finger or two to a hungry tiger...but eye contact will not be one of your concerns.

-- Helpfulness: That's part of your job, too, in case you weren't aware. Asking if I need help locating something and then saying, "Oh, I don't know where the powdered donuts are...I work in produce" is a serious WTF moment for me.

Why did you even bother to ask me if I needed your help in the first place? I mean, you can clearly see that I'm in the bread aisle so obviously I'm not looking for the romaine lettuce and tomatoes.

It's imperative that I know where you all moved the donuts to...do you not understand that?! My every bit of happiness depends on it.

It's the ONLY thing on this entire planet that makes my husband forget about sex.

-- Put on a happy face: In this day and age, consider yourself lucky that you still have a job. Does it really take much to put on a smile and act like you're enjoying your day?

Even if your boyfriend just broke up with you so he could date the town whore or your girlfriend of only 3 months announces she's pregnant with your best friend's baby, don't take it out on an innocent customer.

For God's sake, just put on a cheery face for the next 2 hours of your shift. Then you can go home and stuff an entire quart of ice cream down your throat, while you cry your heart and swear off dating for the rest of your life...or until the hottie at 7-11 offers to buy you a coke-flavored slurpee.

-- Show some professionalism: Seriously, this should be a given. When I ask for a gift receipt, responding with a low groan as if you're a panda bear in heat who can't find a mate, is not acceptable.

My goodness, it's just a receipt for crying out loud. It's not like I asked you to give me your first born child. God knows I have 4 of my own...I don't need one more...who more than likely inherited your hatred for all mankind.

-- No TMI allowed: I like hearing that your family enjoys a product that I'm trying for the first time. But after you scan my box of Morningstar sausage patties, I don't want to hear you say, "Oh, I wouldn't eat that if I were you. I ate some the other day and it gave me the worst explosive diarrhea I've ever had in my entire life!"

Just keep that little tid-bit of info to yourself, okay?

Is there anything I left out? Feel free to share...

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52 comments:

singedwingangel said...

Hmmm jphone service workers etiquette.. do not answer the phone as if you just got off a sex call. I HATE that... the breathy helllooo can you hear me... as a former customer service representative for a phone company trust me when I say it ain't that hard of a job lol..

Merri Ann said...

Don't offer up advice about what I should and should not do with my children while you're ringing up my groceries ...

FRANNIE said...

Mine is specifically for Home Depot...

Do NOT ask me if I need help and then appear as if you're going to get me an answer NEVER to be seen again!

They just freakin' disappear!

Missy (Two Little Monkeys) said...

So true - I love the sluggish, no smiling, "I hate my job" employees. I am always overly happy and cheerful when dealing with them.
Other cashiers that I "love" are the ones who tell you about themselves for hours.
Hi, my name is Flo. Oh, and my sister has twins. Her twins are a boy and a gil. They are funny - they fight all the time. I do not have kids yet. But my boyfriend and I are trying. I love kids and want 10 while Jeb, my boyfriend, wants 1.... Seriously, you could have stopped after the name.

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

This was such a good post. And I totally agree...if you didn't want to work in a place where you had to help people, then why the F did you get a job in the service industry?

Jill and Mike said...

Right on girl! I've complained for years about customer service. I am pleasantly surprised when I'm treated as I feel I should be as a customer and I'm really not that picky.

Rebecca said...

This should be in an employee handbook somewhere! Amen and post it loud and proud! It's soooo annoying! However, I LOVE when I get great customer service (probably b/c it's such a treat)!

Donuts? Really? Then he'll forget about sex? Hysterical!

Anything Fits a Naked Man said...

THANK you for posting this!! I hate when I'M the one who does the initial greeting at the check-out, trying to force eye contact or even a smile, and get NOTHING in return. REALLY? Do you know how many people are out of work right now? Really?

Sheesh!!

Booklover1212 said...

Or the cashiers with the nails that could dig an eye out, chomping on gum, and then rolling your eyes while you dig out your coupons.

Great post!!

~ Jennifer

Lisa said...

For me, I hate asking someone at Walmart for assistance. They always act put off by it. They will rush past me, avoiding all eye contact, and when I say excuse me....I can see and hear the sigh of contempt.

I had to laugh at your description of the person when asked for a gift receipt - "responding with a low groan as if you're a panda bear in heat who can't find a mate"!!!! Hilarious!!

This post is soooo real! We all deal with idiots like this, but why do we? There are other places to shop.

We live in a Zoo! said...

It seems customer service has taken a flying leap out the window and may not be coming back anytime soon.
My family just went on vacation. We went to disney world. It wasn't just a vacation from our day to day schedules, it was a vacation from terrible CS because the "team members" that work at disney world must have to take a year long course on CS to be able to work there. Or maybe there is a "zero tolerance" rule about lacking CS. I don't know what it is but Disney empoyees are the nices people I've ever met. ;D

BigSis said...

I totally agree. And, what I can tell you from the HR perspective is that you should have met the ones we DIDN'T hire.

The Girl Next Door Grows Up said...

I actually try to avoid Target on the weekend because I hate the teenage check out girls. They TOTALLY over share and just talk and talk and talk - they drive me NUTS!!

Buckeroomama said...

I can't stand those who act like what they're paid to do is totally beneath them. If they can't be proud of what they do, they shouldn't have taken the job in the first place.

Richele said...

I worked retail for years and we were always being trained for customer service. Now, it seems no one cares. It's rare to find a good salesperson in a retail shop. I remember my manager telling us NEVER have a conversation with other employees while you were with a customer. Well, it seems that is commonplace now...drives me crazy.

The way I see it, you asked for your job...no one kidnapped you and forced you to be a cashier or sell lipstick...so be grateful!

Wendy said...

I was just thinking the exact same thing on Sunday. Customer service sucks! I went to the grocery store on Sunday & while I was checking out I noticed the hot dogs I had purchased were green, I said, "Oh! I didn't notice that before, they're green." The lady behind the counter goes, "Yes they are. Did you still want them?" Uh?? DUH! No. Moron. She was extremely rude. Nice to see I'm not the only one dealing with idiots! haha

Nezzy said...

Ya have a bad experience did ya??? Yep,I totally agree. AMEN! I was in the produce section of Wally World the other day and a sweet little lady asked where a product was and the rude clerk announced..not my department as she literally ran away. I don't work there, not paid by 'em but stopped my shopping to help the little lady out! RUDE, RUDE clerk!

Have a beautifully blessed day, sweetie!

The Mother said...

Oh, the TMI thing.

Editing is truly a lost skill. Among customer service personnel, among waiters, among clerks. Just do your job and let me live mine. Silently.

Eva Gallant said...

Then there's the grocery checkout where the cashier and the bag boy are either too busy flirting with each other or gabbing about their weekend plans or weekend past to give you the time of day! Great post!

Mom of Many said...

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Jenny said...

LOL, especially the donuts. I love powdered sugar donuts. I bought Abby a bag recently, but they were gone before she even woke up the next morning!

Seriously, I haven't had good customer service for a long time. It's insane!

Kitty said...

so true, love your blog btw

Cascia said...

I agree with you it is hard to find good customer service these days.

By the way you won a prize on Healthy Moms. I e mailed you the details.

S Club Mama said...

I get being a cashier kind of sucks, but yeah, you have job. I am really really annoyed when you go to customer service & those people are rude.

Don't ever be afraid to talk to a manager. People need to understand how to do their jobs better.

And you're right. No matter your job, it's called professionalism. Plain & simple.

Did someone really say that about the diarrhea?

Missie said...

I've already told a cashier that maybe she shouldn't be her position if she doesn't like people! I've spent years in retail management and my biggest pet peeve is poor customer service.
www.what-comes-next.net

Dianna@KennedyAdventures said...

I am so sad that you are not going to Baltimore -- you, me and Angie could sit around and laugh, laugh, laugh!! Brett and I call the drive thru folks "surly'!

I go out of my way to use places I know have excellent customer service --- like Chick Fil A, and Starbucks. I've NEVER had anyone there be rude, or incompetant.

Brooke said...

lmao @ panda bear in heat!!

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

Customer service is dead.

You know what I love? When co-workers complain about their job to each other while waiting on you. Yeah. Love that.

Alicia said...

LOLOL at the last one! Oh my gosh! YOu crack me up!

Mighty M said...

This was great! I always love when I am checking out and the cashier is talking to another cashier and completely ignores me until we are a few minutes into the transaction! Trader Joe's has the BEST employees! They are always very chatty and cheerful!!

Lana@The Kids Did WHAT?! said...

Customer service? What's that??

I went to Mcdonald's today. We were at the drive thru and asked for 4 cheeseburgers. The girl asked if I wanted a meal. I said "no thanks. Just the burgers." She replied with "You don't want nuttin to wash it down with"? I laughed as I thought she was kidding and said I would be fine with just the burgers. When I pulled up to the window she looked at me and said "You're going to be back here in 10 mintues wanting a drink. Trust me." The proceeded to THROW my change at me. Half of it went into the car, half of it on the ground. Then she slammed her fist down on the counter and was LIVID that *I* was going to "force" HER to get the fallen money for me. I wanted to stab her in the eyeball with my keys, but I didn't have time...As I pulled away, she hollered after me, "You don't even know what you want!!!!!"

I'm still perplexed. And will be for a while I think.

The Blue Zoo said...

The TMI cracked me up!

What I hate the most is when the cashiers at the grocery store are all yelling back and forth just completely having their own conversation acting like you dont excist at all while they ring up your stuff. And I really hate it when it's all in spanish so I have no clue what they're saying!!

LMJ said...

LMAO!!
As someone who worked in every customer service type of job, I can tell you that I was awesome! I quit, because most of the time, people as assholes, even if you're being super nice, helpful, and professional.

Debbie said...

Oh Helene, I have written about the same thing before! What did happen to customer service? Scary, isn't it?

Erin said...

ok, wait---did someone really tell you they had diarrhea when they saw your sausages? omg.

you are so right though. i'm tired of rude people who have no desire to DO THEIR JOB, which is TO HELP SHOPPERS. so frustrating. especially with my cranky children in tow.

D said...

I worked in retail and I just tried to make the customers feel special. I even engaged their kids in coversation if I could. Honestly, the biggest pet peeve I had after two retail store were first, rude customers and people who wouldn't interact. One lady spent the entire time she was in my line screaming at her stepson. I honestly felt bad for her other kid and that one wasn't even out yet. Imagine not knowing your mom's an antisocial dingbat?!

Marianne said...

If your coworkers start noticing you have social skills that make Kate Gosselin seem warm and fuzzy, you probably shouldn't be in customer service.

I used to work at Stein Mart and this snob of a 19-year-old gothic red head over shared with anyone who that so much as blinked in her direction about her sex life and what a "bitch" her mom was. And then she'd say how horrible Stein Mart was and how much the management stunk. To customers! But the creme de la creme of her nutty antics... she flipped a woman the bird. To her face. And didn't understand why the was upset. Because that's normal and all.

We Hoosiers are a classy bunch, huh?

Stacey said...

Ever since I've started work in Customer Service (so most of my working life, but mostly over the last 5 years), I've become hyper-aware of the level of customer service in any place I go to. I'm so sick of going to Target and Walmart and being completely unacknowledged by the cashier until it's time to pay. What ever happened to "Hi there! Did you find everything OK today?" or something of the like? It's so annoying.

It's worse in restaurants where you're supposed to see your server multiple times during your "stay" and you never see them. I'm an awesome tipper, but most servers I've encountered don't know that because they don't pay attention to me. Ummm, hi, don't you want a tip? That's why you're a server - for the tips. We all know it's not for the awesome experience. LOL.

But never fear! Any time you come into a place I'm working, you'll get awesome customer service from me! =o)

KK said...

LOL, I totally understand.

Robin said...

Definitely all you said..but on the other end of the spectrum..the ones who have lengthy conversations with each customer...blind to the fact that the line is out the door..and there is only one cashier..happened last night at CVS..I was about 4th on line and the cashier ( about 70yrs old) and the customer were chatting, laughing and carrying on..so I decided to clear my throat very loudly..the cashier looked over to see who it was..and then went right back to chatting..obviously everyone was annoyed..and this is at 11 at night..WTF..OK I just relived and vented my anger..Thank You so much..!

Flory said...

My first visit to a new Target that opened up in my area was horrible. I walked around the whole store and no one could help me. Finally, at customer service a became really rude, and that's when I got some help. The last person greeted me with a smile from half a mile away. I think she was warned.

Creative Junkie said...

Customer service sucks everywhere, I swear to God. You know those commercials for WalMart, where someone employee is like "we just love people at WalMart!" and there's smiles everywhere and employees are helping people check out and find things and stuff?

I feel like I'm on a wicked awful acid trip when I see those. I have yet to encounter ANYTHING remotely like those scenes at our WalMart, or any store really, except Wegmans.

They should show a WalMart commercial with the store looking like the basement of Silence of the Lambs and a Dr. Lecter wannabe employee asking a customer if she wants some fava beans and nice chianti with her new patio table set. At least then I'd have a decent base line for my expectations.

Lady V dZine said...

Great post. Yep, customer service stinks some places. But, I have to tell ya, I was not surprised when the lady at the fabric counter at Wal-mart gave great service, because she always does. Some people do a great job, others do not. It's the same in every industry. I just try to keep their crappy attitude from ruining my day.
Visiting from SITS, love your blog.
Virginia
http://ladyvdzine.com

Kimberly said...

I just told a company how excellent their customer service was. I just don't understand how some of these companies allow their "customer service" people act so unprofessional.

"Cottage By The Sea" said...

I was once in a kids clothing store and the sales girl was on her cell phone the entire hour I was shopping for my 4 kids. I needed to as her a question several times and she looked right at me but didn't get off her phone to as if I needed something. By the time I got up to the counter and she was STILL ignoring me and talking on her phone I threw all the clothes on the counter and said, add it up honey, you just missed out on about $600. Commission on back to school clothing. Then I left and called the manager. I never went to that store again because I never heard back from here and wanted to save my heart rate going up again. I do actually think that customer service is getting better now in down economic time. It's harder to keep a job if you are a total dumb ass.

The Blonde Duck said...

Popped in from SITS to say hi!

Did she seriously say the thing about the sausage?

Low Expectations said...

Wow... I agree and cannot believe how people are these days. I just want to shout... SERIOUSLY!!!

Kim said...

Don't tell me you're about to walk out on your job when all I want to know is how much my cracked pepper turkey breast weighs on your little scale. Then do not proceed to offer me your job while I am clearly busy waving a rattle in my baby's face and (heroically)pulling my son back to safety as he leaps head first through the car cart window.

Great post... this was really funny and completely relatable!

Tracie said...

I was getting ready to whip out a rant about Wal Mart workers this morning!

I don't want the cashier to comment on anything that I've purchased. It makes me very uncomfortable to think that he/she could spout some wisdom about KY at any minute.

Corrie Howe said...

So funny you should write this...or actually that I should read this today. I was talking to someone about some great customer service today. And how the social media can really make or break some customers. I remember when I was in customer service we learned how it is cheaper to keep one customer than to bring in 100 new customers. Because that one customer will go tell 100 people how you handled the situation.

Now we can tell the whole world. FB, Twitter, Text, etc.

debi9kids said...

Not sure it has to do with manners, but I'd liek to ask that if they can't count back change, to please, dear God, don't take a job as a cashier.
i am not a gypsy. Just because I hand them a penny after they have opened the drawer does not mean I am trying to swindle the store out of all of their money. Sheesh!

wahzat!! said...

YOu are hilarious!! Two sets of twins and you still have time to be funny love it! I just have one set of twins and I am pulling my hair out... well they do have two older siblings so I guess we have the same body count in our house.
Customer service or shoul.d I say lack of CS is my pet peeve and you hit all of my grouses on the head.

Good luck with the renovations
and lots of patience with your troupe :)
(dont ask our I got to your space LOL It was a long winding route)

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr



 
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