Thursday, October 10

A break from writing lead to this---

Since I've barely written a word this past week, I'm going off on a rant about overzealous customer service in retail stores these days.

2008 did more than ruin our economy, it put the fear of God--or the non-committed consumer--into the heads of CEO's across the country.

I work for a major retail establishment and I know this quite intimately. We are told to greet customers when they walk in the door, "Welcome to our store." 
Store not-to-be-named so I can keep my day job and paycheck. 

We are also supposed to greet customers in the aisle the same way, introduce ourselves, and ask if they need assistance. I have no problem with offering to help people, I've been doing it for ten years and very well, thank you very much. I have a problem with using assigned verbiage so we all sound alike--worker bees, anyone? I actually had a customer say that our "new" salutation sounds like the Hunger Games and I had to agree because that was my first thought when I was told to say it.

BUT--my company is not the only one doing it. Extreme Customer Service is everywhere! The other day my sister and I went into a Pier One and were immediately pounced upon by a cashier asking what we were looking for.

Seriously Pier One? What am I looking for? The whole appeal of Pier One is finding something you weren't looking for. Then someone else asked if we needed help. We left after a third person asked if we were having fun.

And today at Yankee Candle, the cashier asked where I was going after I left their store. Really??? When I said lunch, she asked where. Why? Do you need a sandwich? You seem like a nice girl, but I'm not in the market for a new bff.

Last week for lunch I went to a Pacific NW burger chain and while I attempted to enjoy my solitude for 20 minutes before I had to head back to work, the shift manager walked the floor asking all patrons questions about their service, their day, their---again, Really?? Can't I just sit in peace and quiet and eat my meal?

Even Starbucks has jumped onto the bandwagon. A co-worker said she was in the drive-thru and the cashier looked in her back seat and commented on the bags from where she'd been shopping. When did snooping into our business become customer service? 

So, stepping off my soapbox, I was wondering if this phenomenon is something that is trending everywhere and if other people are annoyed as I am by the constant interruptions while trying to shop. 


  1. UGH! You are so right, Margie! It's kind of creepy. I always take my headphones/ipod with me when I'm writing at Starbucks or wherever...that way no one bothers me.

  2. It's a great irony--because some places are in danger of losing business do to their "outstanding" customer service. I say greet the customer, ask if there's anything you can help them find and then let them go about their business.

  3. You are so right! I love customer service when it's good, and I uptalk it everywhere I go, but this is phony stuff. Great post, Margie!

  4. Unfortunately, the creepiness has spread to the doctor's office. We're supposed to smile and thank patients for choosing us for all their medical needs. Not something you want hear when you've gotten bad news!

  5. Liz--it's the phoniness that bugs me too. After all my years in retail, I can pretty much tell if someone wants to be greeted or helped--at this point it's pretty much second nature but now with the new verbiage, it will come across as forced :(

    Shawn--That would be a weird thing to hear at the doctor's office--especially if you've been a patient with them for a while. I'd rather they "remember" me. When Jordan had her braces, we ran into her orthodontist at the county fair and she new Jordan by name even though she has hundreds of patients. That kind of service goes a lot further for me.