"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life.
Don't be trapped by Dogma which is living with the results of other people's thinking.
Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your inner voice.
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become."
- Steve Jobs

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Customer Service, what's that then??

Is it just me that is noticing that our shops are being taken over by teenagers? Teenage shop assistants with the customer service skills of a corpse are the new disease polluting retail, particularly female clothing outlets.

I went into a well-known clothing shop and bought a pair of trousers today. Approaching the counter I saw the usual pre-pubescent girl staring vacantly into space whilst fiddling with her bellybutton ring and no doubt thinking about Dave who has the nice red Nova. Her puppyfat hips were bursting out of her too-small hipsters, her fingers were encrusted with Sovereign rings, and her brunette hair was streaked with a myriad of colours that made it look like her baby brother had spilt poster paint over her head.

I look her in the eye. "Hello!" I say, and a smile. She avoids eye contact, says nothing, and takes the trousers, folding them like a robot whilst swiping my card. She hands me the slip to sign, all the while looking over my shoulder, then keeps gazing past me as I sign.

On receiving my bag I say "Thank You" and again, no response. I resist the urge to scream at her "Thank you for your WONDERFUL customer service, I've just helped pay your wages you jumped-up bag of hormones - at least LOOK ME IN THE F*CKING EYE!"

Unfortunately I'm not a brash enough person to say something like that, nor am I confident enough to try to make small talk with them...especially the sulky ones. The one time I did try the girl smiled a terrified smile, laughed for no reason, and packed my bag up in double time so she could get rid of me. I don't look that bloody scary!

It's so depressing to go into shop after shop after shop and be greeted by this same attitude and crap level of service...even spending huge amounts of dosh on expensive clothes, you are greeted with the same response. Why don't shop managers notice this? Is there ANY customer service training for retail assistants at all in this country? It's got to the point now that if an assistant is polite and chatty to me, I am momentarily stunned and amazed. The chatty ones are usually older people, who obviously know how to talk.

Kids these days can't communicate (except with their mates and Dave who has the nice red Nova). Stick a stranger in front of them and they turn into monosyllabic scared rabbits who are terrified of opening their mouths for fear of being ignored and receiving no reply, or just simply don't know the art of smalltalk. They eye you suspiciously as if you are a drunk or a weirdo - if you want to talk to a stranger then you MUST have a few wires loose, right??? ER no......

Some customers don't like to chat to assistants which is fair enough - their choice. But all assistants should make the effort to be friendly and welcoming, it really can make someone's day and inspire loyalty amongst customers.

I've visited Western Australia 3 times now and each time I am amazed at the friendliness of the shop assistants, and yes that includes young girls too. Smile. Eye contact. "Hi how's it going?" "Have you had a good day?" - it's great, and really encourages you to spend in that same shop again. It costs nothing but is worth ££££££. Shop Managers take note!

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