I'm your customer, don't ignore me

[Boy looking at store window display of toys] (LOC)

One thing that bugs me when I walk into a retail store is when the people purportedly assisting me with my purchase or query don’t actually engage with me. By “engage” I mean talk to me when there is a problem of some description or respond to my queries by answering me. Instead store staff seem to have developed a tendency to discuss issues with each other and only communicate with me when its time to pay.

With all the attention on giving customers better and more personal feedback on social media, retailers shouldn’t forget that the in person engagements happening daily in their stores are perhaps more important and receive less attention. As customers we don’t necessarily need to be treated like royalty (although retailers that do treat their customers well differentiate themselves), store staff should begin with talking to customers, looking them in the eye and actually engaging with them.

I had an experience this morning at Woolworths in Design Quarter which is another good example. The cashier rang up my latte purchase. The price is R23 and she charged my card 23c, leaving a balance of R22,77. I only realized there was a problem when I looked up from my phone and saw a balance due on the till’s display. The cashier hadn’t said anything to me and was discussing the issue with a colleague. I asked if she had charged the wrong amount and the colleague confirmed this. The cashier then added another R23 to the total and wanted to charge me the balance and give me cash back to cover the extra amount charged. I told her she should get a supervisor to authorize the excess R23’s removal and charge me the balance due so she went off to find someone. She didn’t let me know there was an issue and left it up to me to figure it out and wait patiently for her to figure something out. When the supervisor arrived he didn’t bother engaging with me either so I just left some cash and walked out the store with my purchase.

A far more effective approach would have been to let me know she had made a mistake when she made it and let me know what she was doing to fix it. When she couldn’t the supervisor should have done that. Its not difficult, just courteous and decent customer service.






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