Word to the RetailWise IV

High Spirits for Slow Times

Make sure your new hires know what is expected of them.

And I want to illustrate that with this short, but very telling story.

Here it is…

In a store that is part of a large international retail chain, I recently witnessed something that gave me reason to believe that their new employees simply did not know what what was expected of them.

And, here is why I drew that conclusion…

While checking out, I was the customer next in line behind a woman who was purchasing no less than 15 women’s blouses. 15!

It was a great sale for the store.

The other item the woman was purchasing was something of a carryall bag.

The woman wanted the cashier to put the blouses into the bag – very environmentally friendly and all that, right?

So, as the cashier scanned each blouse, she removed the security tag and crumpled it up and put it into the carryall bag.

Not folded, not even close to being folded.

These blouses were being handled like something one would throw into the trash can.

Seriously, I am not exaggerating.

Overcome with a sense of responsibility to defend every customer everywhere, I spoke up.

I said to the cashier “You know, this lady is buying all of these lovely blouses and you are not handling them very carefully. 

They’re going to be full of wrinkles and they’re brand new.

I would be happy to help you fold them up.”

Just a note here, the customer in front of me spoke very little English and that made it difficult for her to get involved in the conversation.

Some may say I should mind my own business but, in my line of work, it’s next to impossible to ignore these things.

I was ready for the worst…possibly a scene!

Anyway, to my absolute astonishment, the young cashier said, “You don’t have to help me.

I’ll do it.

That’s why I have a job.”

I had expected a nasty stare, a flippant or sarcastic remark or, at the very least, a miserable attitude.

But, no.

The cashier – who I have not seen in this store before and am quite certain she is relatively new – proceeded to fold the items and then when it was my turn to be served  she continued to be very pleasant.

What an employee…the kind we don’t come across very often anymore.

The moral of this story is: Teach your employees what is expected of them.

This young woman; this new cashier simply didn’t know how she was supposed to handle the merchandise. 

She was very receptive to my ‘training’.

I only hope I did not embarrass her.

I commend her for her accepting attitude.

But I must fault management for not having taught her properly in the first place.

They basically set her up to fail.

Driving Customers Away

There are still retailers who haven’t figured out how important even decent customer service is to their success.

Are you one of them?

Probably not.

But, according to a recent article I read, there is a group of retailers – in one small town in the USA – who are just now training their employees on basic customer service skills.

Up until now they’ve been completely unaware that the lion’s share of their sales and profit shortfall can be directly linked to the fact that customers don’t like dealing with them…and rarely come back for another dose of whatever it is their getting.


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The customers in question have reported driving quite a few miles, to another town, to do their shopping.

Not because the stores in the other town offer more variety, and not because the stores in the other town have better prices.

No… they say they are doing it because they want to shop at stores where the associates treat them properly!

So, now, with the help of government funding, the retail employees in this town are being trained to provide better customer service.

It’s all being done to help the local economy which, naturally and quite expectedly, is struggling.

It’s all fine and well to help the economy but, honestly, isn’t this a little too much?

Wouldn’t you think that some of the retail business owners might have figured all of this out on their own and taken steps to do better?

Who have they been hiring?

What kind of training are they giving new employees, if any?

The local business owners and management obviously need some training themselves!

Well, hopefully some good will come from the customer service training.

Maybe the local customers will finally be able to shop in their own town without feeling mistreated.

Or maybe it’s too little, too late.

We wish them all the best of luck.


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