Thursday, June 02, 2005

Hi !

When did the idea of customer service at retail degenerate into employees aggressively greeting you as you walk in the door?

I went shopping last night for an anniversary gift for my wife at a fairly upscale mall. I must have went into 12 stores -- I have no idea what to get her -- and in at least 10 of them I was attacked by a well meaning employee: "Hello! How are doing?" "Hi, Can I help you find something?" "Hi" "Welcome" -- Yes, I actually got a 'welcome.'

I also got a surprising number of questions: "Hi, How are you...How 'ya doing" and so on. This is annoying on several levels:
  • I don't know you. You don't really care how I am.
  • It begs an answer, which is the beginning of a conversation. I'm not here to make friends, I'm here to find the perfect gift that will make my wife swoon.
  • I really didn't have time to stop and chat. It was after work, I was trying not to be too late home, lest she suspect (failed that). But brisk responses made me feel rude. So now, I'm late, no closer to a gift and I feel like a heel. ugh.
  • In a number of those stores, I was able to tell with a quick glance around whether it was worth further inspection. Male readers know exactly what I mean. So, being attacked as I crossed the threshold was not helping.
A few of the stores did better. The employees watched me come in, made eye contact with a smile when I looked at them and came over to offer help when I looked perplexed. These employees made themselves available without being intrusive. If I needed them, they helped quickly, pleasantly, and efficiently. That's customer service.

Let's get back to actually helping rather than going through the motions.