Customer Service – FAIL!

Yep, it’s time to talk about Customer Service.


How do people selling merchandise behind a counter expect people to come back when they can’t be bothered to offer just basic courtesy and manners?

Yes, this post is going to be a rant.  My next post will highlight a company/restaurant who has managed to empower their employees to provide an exceptional experience for their patrons, so if that’s what you’re looking for…it will post in a day or two.

Today, I just have to get this off my chest. We’ve all had retail experience, whether we’re behind the counter or we are a customer in a store wanting to buy something.

This past weekend we were shopping at a camera supply store. Most of their clientele are professional photographers/photography geeks. I get that. And yet, some of their merchandise includes a few basic “point and shoot” cameras. Not what a professional would use, but still good name cameras. I believe this one was a Nikon. The woman asked the man behind the counter a few questions and his disdain for her as a customer was absolutely palpable. He barely answered her questions, could hardly wait to get the camera out of her hands so he could call the next number (yes, we all had to take numbers in this place) and help someone who might provide him with a better commission.

How do I know he works on commission?

He actually had the nerve to say to the departing woman, “If you decide to come back and buy that camera, I would appreciate you mentioning my name. We work on commission, you know.”

My jaw dropped.

I thought there was a rule book somewhere that specifically addressed this kind of statement. Why should your customer care if you work on commission?

YOU, the clerk, need to provide the very best shopping experience for every single customer if you want to get a good commission. And not everyone will buy. That’s the name of the game. But you don’t know who that customer might be related to. They might be friends with a really famous photographer who sent them to your store hoping you’d treat his friends well. But you didn’t!

Now what? You most certainly lost that immediate sale, but you could lose even more future sales by that kind of behavior.

Before you determine that I’m being too critical, let me continue because my story isn’t done.

He called the next number…the very one I was holding in my hand.

Yep, we were his next customer.

And he saw that we were buying professional equipment for photo shoots and his demeanor changed immediately. He was Mr. Smiles and Helpfulness. He found us a better backdrop rigging system than we were going to buy originally and took time to chat us up, finding out what we like to do with the equipment.

Our experience with this man and that of the poor woman in front of us was as different as night and day.

And there is NO EXCUSE for that!

Yes, we bought the equipment, because we needed it right away.  If we didn’t, I think we would have gone elsewhere, or come back when he wasn’t working and give someone else that commission.

Folks, don’t be that obvious. You don’t have to love all your customers, but if you intend to stay in biz, make sure everyone is treated as a guest, with courtesy and a gracious attitude.  You can grumble about things at home over dinner with your family. Do NOT take it out on customers on the floor.


2 thoughts on “Customer Service – FAIL!

    • I’ve been seeing it more and more often, which is why I decided to comment about it. I was shocked…even more so when he did a complete “about face” when he realized we were willing to spend some money. Lesley, what type of training do you do in your shop to make sure everyone who represents your shop provides the very best customer experience possible?

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