Listen To The People Who Shop With You

Customer Service
Customer Service

At some point if you want your business to grow or be viable, it is important to listen to the people who shop with you. Many people consider “customer service” to be an oxymoron. Over the years of being both a businessman and a consumer, I have had a lot of good experiences and the occasional negative one.  

Rarely, do I write about something that is negative, unless I think and believe we can do better. 

Over the holidays, I accumulated a few gift cards and such, and decided to make a few purchases I might not have made.  

I went online and made a purchase. Not enough for “free shipping.” Okay, I thought I checked the box, ship to store. (I did.) But, hey, I still added one more item. Now, I get free shipping, but I want it to go to the store.  

A week goes by, and I get an email from them. My order is split. Please pick up one item at the store. A couple of days later, the other item showed at my home. 

OK. Now, I have a few more dollars left, and a hooded sweatshirt is “in-store,” so I ordered. Email arrives. Your order is ready in “self-checkout.” Unlike the first email, which tells me I will need an ID for the other item. 

Folks, let me say a couple of things. I am 67 years old. I love most technology (Until it does not like me…) and I am okay with self-checkout, robots, and AI on most levels. I do not see it as my job to change how someone runs their business, but please, if you are going to do something, please DO IT WELL. 

I buy from local small businesses when I can, and that is most of my purchases. 

I get what “short staffed” means, that the economy is tough, and many on both sides of the register line, think they are entitled. That is not me. I work overtime to be patient and to be kind wherever I go. I think there are a lot more of “me” than “them.” I have friends that work in retail, and I know people can be stupid. 


Yesterday, I made the decision to go pick up the two items. I did not see the “self-checkout” where it had been and felt relieved. 😊 I went to customer service and was politely told to go “All the way to the back of the store.” I looked over and saw that there was a paper sign about “self-checkout.”  

If you want people to respect your lack of staff, it needs to be a little better. And you tell people they need a phone, why not a message, 

Hey, welcome to our store! We are glad you are here! Your item is in the store. And for helping us out, did you know you can get ‘free candy’ in aisle 2. (Just kidding about the candy…) 

Remember I love tech and self-checkout. Make it an adventure. Not a safari, but an experience worth coming back to. 

I wander down the back looking for signs. At the end of the aisle, I look for the sign. I see it up on the ceiling in the corner. Why not lights? “You have arrived or something.” 😊 

I walk over—more paper signage. Please open your email, click this button, and enter this code… OK, that sounds simple enough. I do that. And the circle spins and spins. Let us try the store’s WIFI. Nope. Not that, either. Back to cellular. (I have a new iPhone, a solid carrier, and you stick the items in the back of the store with iffy service.) Finally, after 10 minutes, I got the answer! And picked up one item! 

What? Now I am a little frustrated. Back to customer service to wait in line.  

I want to say to the customer service person, “this is the dumbest system ever.” I shut my mouth, let her deliver my second package, thanked her, and walked away. 

Employees are not the issue. Corporate issues, to management.  

“Leadership is the answer, and leadership is the problem.” 

I have spent thousands of dollars in your store. Perhaps, no more. This was one of the most frustrating customer service issues I have encountered in a year. I do the bulk of the shopping in my family. I shop with children and grandchildren, and guide people to better shopping experiences. This currently is not one of them. 

I received two emails from this store before I hit the main road. Would you take the survey for the item you just picked up? I got home and gave them a 1 out of 5 on the first one. On to the second one… Wait, it is no longer there. (A little sensitive, are we?) 

Folks, I am not a complainer. I will be sending a very detailed letter to their corporate office. Along with some of the suggestions, I have.  

Never complain unless you have solutions! 

It was not the employees that made my day worse. It was company policy, directives not thought out.  

I am over 6 feet tall. I had 5 retail stores at one point. Each time I walked into a store I would crouch down to five feet high. Why? Because in the jewelry and gift business, many of the shoppers were women and I wanted to see what they saw. Through their eyes. What did I want to sell? Where did I place it? 

Folks, this company store does not see things through the eyes of the shopper. Your educated guesses, without the practical realities of “being there,” mean truly little to the average shopper. (When I had a construction business in the early 80s, I used to say, “unless an architect spent a year in the field, I had extraordinarily little trust in their thinking.” What are your employees who work on the floor telling you?) 

Do not tell me how to walk until you walk a mile in my shoes. And as I told my kids during their dating years, watch how they walk. Not how they look. Where their feet go, goeth them.  

Whether you are a business owner or a box store. If you don’t listen, it is a lose-lose scenario. Restore winning to customer service. 

I am sure some folks, want to know “who this is.” That is less relevant than people. 

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