Sunday, November 30, 2014

Customer Service Tips

As a public service to shoppers and stores associates alike, I present a few helpful tips for your holiday shopping excursions. Even better, these nuggets are gifts that keep on giving -- you can use them all year long, and adapt them to many other life events.

Although these are not actual laws, it might be nice if they were, with violations subject to reprimands, fines, or even incarceration. But, as America is still a free country, you are still free to be an ass to your fellow humans should you so choose.

If you need to return a purchase, even if the store doesn’t require it, the process is a lot faster if you have your receipt with you. A receipt will really speed things up if you removed and threw away all the tags and packaging. Unless, of course, your entertainment for the day includes spending chunks of time leaning on a counter while a clerk attempts to research the product number for an item which may or may not be available on the shelf. If you don’t have a receipt and paid cash, please don’t be upset when the only refund option is a merchandise credit at the lowest sale price in 13 weeks. With no receipt there is no way to verify what was paid, and with the retail custom of sales, discounts and coupons, it probably wasn’t the sticker price.

When you are coming to the customer service to make a charge account payment, perhaps you could write the check out in advance, say, at the comfort of your kitchen table. That way you could avoid fumbling through your things, locating your checkbook, and writing out the check at the counter while the line of people behind you bores holes into the back of your head with their angry eyes.

If you have “just a quick question,” maybe you could ask a floor clerk, instead of cutting in front of any and all customers standing in a register line or queue at the customer service desk, and interrupting the clerk in the middle of a transaction. It’s just a guess, but highly likely that any clerk in the store can tell you where the socks are.

Phone Etiquette
When calling the store with a question, please get to the point. Quickly. The person answering the phone is probably responsible for other activities, like waiting on the line of people at the customer service desk, and may even be in the middle of a transaction. There probably isn’t a person on staff dedicated solely to taking phone calls and just sitting there waiting for the phone to ring. We don’t need the history of your shopping habits, we just need to know your question in order to provide the answer, direct your inquiry to the correct department, and get back to the task at hand. 

Newsflash! People often mirror the attitude projected by others. This means, when you approach a service counter or cashier in a confrontational (even hostile!) manner, the person on the other side is picking up on that attitude and is already bracing for a battle.   When you are reasonably pleasant, those around you will be more eager to help.

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