I’d generally consider myself a patient man, but one of the things that makes me cranky is customer service that doesn’t live up to expectations.
I don’t expect shopkeepers to grovel to me or anything, but I do expect them to at least attempt to make my shopping experience as smooth as possible — or if they can’t do that, then at least recognise that things aren’t going as well as they should be.
My sister keeps recommending a particular local greengrocer, so I went there last night after getting off the train. It was on my way, and I was in a hurry. I wanted spinach leaves (about the only “greens” the kids will eat without question) and a bag of carrots.
What I expected: To be able to find what I wanted quickly and easily.
What I got: No problems, found them easily.
Being after 5pm, it probably wasn’t their peak time. Of the four registers, only one was in use.
What I expected: If a queue developed and more staff were available, they’d open another register.
What I got: A customer with a fair amount of stuff was in front of me, and the lady was moving slowly through it, continually querying the price (“Was this from inside, or outside?”) Other staff members were standing around doing nothing. Maybe they were hanging out for home time. Another customer behind me asked if they could open another register. Grudgingly, it seemed, they did.
I should have switched queues, of course. But others jumped over before me, and soon there was another customer buying a fair bit of stuff who I’d have to wait behind, so I stayed put. The lady had finished tallying up the items for the guy in front of me, and he gave her his card. He had to tell her twice that he wanted it on Credit. She wrestled with the card machine, and it spluttered forth a tangled receipt. She called to someone else to see if it was all right, and the receipt was taken for examination.
What I expected: While we waited, that either she or another staff member would offer to ring up my items on another till, such as the one right next to her.
What I got: I stood there. She stood there. The other customer stood there. After half a minute I asked if she could use the other till so I could pay. A light went on, and she realised that would be a good idea, and she did so.
My items came to $2.80. I handed over a $5 note. She scrabbled around in the till, and, finding no bigger coins, starting counting out 20 cent coins.
What I expected: Some kind of acknowledgement that she was weighing me up with my bodyweight in silver. Seriously, the people in most other shops that I’ve encountered always apologise if they’re giving you a lot of coins.
What I got: 11 x 20 cent coins to stuff into my pocket. No acknowledgement.
And I was on my way.
Was it bad service? Perhaps more like mediocre service. None of it seemed malicious, but it was neglectful enough to ensure that given the choice I’ll go to one of the other local greengrocers in future.
Which is a shame. None of this is rocket science. It just takes a little vigilance to see when there’s a problem, and fix it if possible — rather than having it pointed out to you by your customers.