Boy, do I have some Tales to Tell...
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
I never thought I would, and I never ever think I am good at it, but for the past 11 or so years, I have been working in the Customer Service industry. First, in the Fitness/Exercise Field and now in retail. I still think I am bad at it. I still think that I may be stepping over the line when it comes to handling customers. I guess I'll know how bad I am when I get fired from a job. Not that I expect to or plan on being fired but sometimes I think that the last thing I said is going to get me canned.

For example: on a very busy night at work, I was called to an aisle by a co-worker. Apparently, some lady wanted to know if we had any raw almonds. We had been out for a month because of the poor harvest and were not sure when we would be getting them back. I relayed this story to her and she said that everytime she goes to the other store, she finds them there. I looked her in the eye and said, "Oh good, now you know where to find them." I turned on my heels and walked away. I probably flipped my imaginary long, blond hair too. I thought for sure I was going to be fired for that.

Also: It was one of those long weeks. I was on my tenth night in a row of working and I was truly exhausted and cranky. On top of it, I was in the midst of a two week vegan cleanse. AND it was 10 minutes before closing. Again, I was called by a co-worker to come to the baking aisle to help with a customer. He had wanted a product which we had just ran out of. Apparently, everyone had read the New York Times article on the benefits of said product. I told him that we had just run out of it and we were expecting a shipment tomorrow morning. He jumped into his speech about how he's been coming to this store for ten years and we never have anything in stock. I looked him in the eye and said, "First, we have only been open for five years. Second, if we never have anything in stock, why do you keep coming back again and again? And for "ten" years?" He kept mumbling as he walked away. I thought for sure that I was going to get called the next day and be released.

Plus: Our company has decided to discontinue some of our frozen private label products. The first reason being that the manufacturer of our frozen beef lasagna had decided to go out of business. Despite it's popularity, the company has decided not to find a new manufacturer and just bring in new brands of frozen foods. While working near the frozen section, I heard a guy say to his wife that he could not find it. I approached them in my friendliest customer service mode and asked if they needed help. They asked for the beef lasagna that we no longer offer. I told him the story and offered him some alternatives. He turned to me and said, "You have caused a lot of unhappiness in this world." I looked at him and said, "Over beef lasagna?" I also gave him a "look" which made his wife scream in laughter. He was not pleased. I thought for sure this was the one which would get me fired.

Truth is, I think I am not stepping over any lines. I think that I am just responding to the stupidity of the customer. I won't suffer the fool gladly. I make sure that I respond in a way that seems pleasant albeit pointing out how ridiculous their behavior is. I honestly don't feel that I am being rude. Sarcastic, yeah. Rude, no. I do have this tendency to say things that may point out the absoulute lunacy of their behavior. Is that really bad customer service? I'm I supposed to allow myself to be demeaned because a customer is unable to think clearly? I don't think anyone should. So we don't have a certain item. You aren't going to die. Get over it. Get something else. Try something new. And for once, don't tell me something unless it is going to help me help you better.

For example:

Fat, old lady: Do you carry Trader Joe's Strawberry Jam?

Me: We're Whole Foods, Ma'am?

Fat, old lady: I know that. So, you don't carry it?

Me: Why would we carry our competitor's private label?

Fat, old lady: There's no need for sarcasm. You just have to say no.

Me: Ahh, there I go, not thinking again.

Fat, old lady walks away silent.

End scene.

So do you carry Trader Joe's Strawberry Jam or not?
I would have probably done the same thing. What an idiodic question.

"If you can't do it right don't do it at all." -FD as JC in MD
people are ridiculous! once, when i was working in a retail bakery, we missed an order for a customer's cake on christmas eve. although there were other cakes for her to take home with her, we didn't have the ONE thing that she had wanted. she stood at the counter and screamed, "YOU'VE RUINED MY ENTIRE CHRISTMAS!" well, missy, if your entire christmas hinges on one piece of pastry, you live a very sad life indeed.

oh, and i work at trader joe's and we ALWAYS have whole foods strawberry jam in stock. what is your problem? sheeesh!
I would have loved to be there as a customer to mutter under my breath, just loud enough for her to hear, "No, you skanky idiot twat."
I went to a customer service meeting last week and the guy giving the speech said, "People are SHITS, get over it."
Oh, the stories I could tell you about "customer service" in medicine. But I can't, my tongue is bleeding.
The paying customer has carte blanche to be stupid/rude/mean. The vendor does not. Sarcasm, truth and common sense won't get you fired, tho.

Other than that, it doesn't sound like a bad place to work. Sounds like you get some laffs with being around nutritious foods. Maybe I should looking into working at the Toronto store...
I was at Whole Foods Columbus Circle was going on and on about this juice brand not having an "organic" brand of the juice. I'm assuming this company has never made an organic brand of this particular juice, because she kept saying that Whole Foods "never" has it. And the guy was like "Um, they don't make it."
What you respond to these complaining customers is pretty much what I'd respond. But, I'd cut out the sarcasm. I like it when people complain. That's one way you find stuff out. You (I) want to get past the attitude and encourage the feedback.

How come the store down the street has those almonds? Are they selling old ones? When was the last time the customer found them there? Maybe if you went down to take a look after work, you'd find they are out, too. Maybe the drought story is just the story the supplier is feeding you. Maybe another supplier has them.

When folks complain about a price, (How come your charging $4.00; the other guy charges $3.00?) I say "Wow, that's a good price! Thanks for coming here anyway!

I know, totally brainwashed by management. But, hey people can be stupid and funny. Don't you love 'em.
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Eating up the City before it eats me up. I'm a freelance cook who spends his free time working out, cooking for "my man", and wondering why the Right is so concerned about my bedroom.

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