Saturday, July 27, 2013

Who Took the Service Out of Customer Service?

I remember a time when one could go into a major retail store and there would always be someone there to help you find what you wanted and facilitate a sale. What happened to that time and mindset?  Now, it’s unusual to find a retail store employee who can actually help you. The staff that is there tends to be “rule-bound,” rather than customer service oriented. Although I realize that people are just doing their job and following the rules as they were trained to do, many of these rules serve to alienate instead of provide service to actual customers.

Within the past month, I attempted to purchase merchandise in a major department store. I brought the merchandise to a sales person to ring up and the sales person wanted me to wait while she engaged in a long phone conversation. Another sales person wanted me to wait while she looked for merchandise for someone who might not even wind up purchasing anything. This approach to an actual customer just doesn’t make sense to me. Isn’t the purpose of a retail store to sell merchandise?

Another time, I would up walking away from a purchase because the store employee wouldn’t facilitate the sale without collecting personal information. She asked for my Social Security number in order to process the sale. In all fairness, I wanted to charge the purchase on my store credit card, which I did not have with me at the time. I was perfectly willing to provide alternative forms of identification, including several photo IDs, a credit card and a driver’s license. The sales person assured me that the required information would remain confidential. I dont know about you, but I have been advised to never give out my Social Security number in public. When I refused to provide the required information, I was told all the reasons why she couldn’t make the sale. Embodying a customer service mindset would have shifted the conversation to one of finding alternative ways to provide service and make the sale.

Am I the only one who has experienced this non-customer service approach lately? What about you?


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