Monday, 6 April 2015

If you stayed at home so could we

"It's such a shame you have to work on Easter Sunday, I don't really think you should open"

At least half a dozen customers said this or a variation of this to me yesterday without the slightest sense of irony. It happens every Easter, every Boxing day and every bank holiday, and not just to me, my twitter feed was full of vexed retail workers who would love to be home eating chocolate eggs and big roast dinners with their families but instead are working selling you mostly non essential items. Not a single one of us hasn't thought that if the customer stayed home so could we. If next Easter Sunday we made so little profit that it wasn't worth it, the next Easter we would be able to have a nice day with our loved ones instead.

This may turn into an unseasonal rant about Boxing Day, but it is the worst day to work in retail. I actively dislike all Boxing Day shoppers. They stink of all the things that are bad about the modern Christmas, Selfishness, greed, lack of gratitude. One day after receiving whole bucket load of gifts a large population of the western world feel the overbearing need to go out and spend more money on more stuff. Were all the things they got for Christmas that boring or crap that they are fed up of them already? Are they that impatient that they can't wait one more day to spend that gift card? Why the need to go out and spend more, get more. 

Imagine you work for one of those retailers who has a Boxing day sale, you probably had to stay at work til 8pm on Christmas eve to set up the sale and then have to be in before 6am on Boxing day to control the crazy hoards of bargain hunters - who if they just took ten minutes to think about how capitalist led retail works wouldn't come on the first day of the sale anyway because that is when we put out all the crap we couldn't get rid of last time because we know just the whiff of the word sale drives some people bargain crazy.

 If even a tiny bit of you can empathise with what it may be like to be one of those workers amongst those crowds of people working those hours on those particular days of the year for minimum wage, next year stay home, play with your Christmas presents, eat your left over turkey and spend the quality time you are lucky to have with the people you love, if you really have to get that bargain or spend that gift cards just leave it one more day.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Lets start with the first obvious but seemingly so difficult thing.

Please and Thank You

So there you have it, the biggest bug, Please and Thank you, the first and most simple idea of politeness that the majority of us are taught by our parents before we are even capable of saying them. Not that you would believe it. Daily Parents stand before us instructing their children to say please and thank you to us, words that a large percentage of adults just cannot be bothered to utter.

It doesn't matter which shop you work in their is an item you get asked for most, in the convenience store  sugar, in the department store lingerie and in the bookstore maps. Dozens of people walking round the corner and saying "Maps?" just that, nothing else, obviously what I am paid for is to show them to the maps so that's what I do resisting the urge to just say "what about them?" and see if  they will actually ask properly.  - one of my colleagues used to  say "please" like they are a young child who has forgotten to be polite.

"Maps?" "Sugar?" and "Lingerie?" are not questions they aren't even a sentence, "Maps please?" will do "Can you tell me where the maps are please?" is what we want to hear, and in our store at least you'd be amazed at the difference in the service you get and it is so simple. Try it sometime and be amazed!

A please at the start of a conversation can wipe out the bad mood caused by last customer not saying thank you. I know it should not be up to you to correct their mistakes, but is up to you not to repeat them.

I counted and if I am on the tills at work I say Please as least twice and thank you three times to every customer I serve, this can be to hundreds of people a week, All I ask is One please and one Thank you from each of you in return.

If a sales assistant has been particularly helpful you can lift their whole mood by just saying, "thank you so much for all your help" which in turn makes the next transaction go better and so on, we all win. One person not saying these magic words can't ruin a day but it can feel like crap especially when you feel you have gone above and beyond to help them. If you have already had an awkward customer the next one just using basic etiquette can either renew or bugger up the day for everyone concerned!


Server not Servant

My job title is sales assistant, I am there to assist you, and I like to think I am good at my job, the occasional customer would possibly disagree with you but they probably fell into one of the bad customer brackets that I plan on writing -possibly moaning, probably bitching - about in this blog. I will admit this is probably more of a venting frustration thing than anything else but if someone reads it and thinks about the way they act next time they are out shopping on the high street then I win.

Before you comment, yes some sales assistants are shit, I agree a lot of the stuff that is written about bad customer service is totally justified and sometimes it really is because someone is crap at their job. However, think of your worst day at work ever - and then add another complicated or stupid question, someone who doesn't say please or thank you, a bad joke, a personal comment, a bad assumption, someone being impatient - this addition could be you, or the customer before you but sometimes it is no wonder that you may not get that winning smile.


Through the course of writing this blog you may figure out which retailer I work for, this blog in no way represents any of their views or is about them as an employer, I have worked in retail for twenty years in a number of areas of retail and different sized stores and companies, examples may be taken from any of these jobs.