I’ve worked in a shop for 11 years starting at the very bottom doing resort rental and repair then going on to having many different titles in just retail. One thing that has never eluded me is customer service. I’ve dealt with people from all walks of life from rich multimillionaires to poor snow bums. I’ve dealt with assholes and awesome people alike but I’ve always strived to provide the best customer service I could. Its part of my passion for snowboarding.
The start of this week I attempted to purchase a new lap top. Yes thats right attempted as in I’m still trying to get a new lap top. Evidently the complacency or fear from people working at Best Buy and Office Max is too much for them to talk to me.
Expedition number one in the quest to get mysef a new lap top. I walked into Office Max in Summit County. There’s no one shopping in the store and from what I can tell 5 to 7 employees working. I take my sunglasses off make some eye contact with the people behind the counter and walk over to the computer section. I’m perusing the computers, pushing buttons, checking out features, and constantly looking towards the employees. Granted some other people have come in and are now talking to the employees, thats cool I can wait and keep doing what I’m doing. When they finish up I make eye contact and beckon for them to come forth to sell me a lap top. Oh this does not work, so I do it again to another employee, yep no avail though. So I stand around for 10 more minutes and beckon a few more times. Evidently no one wants to help me because I look like the typical Slummit County snowboard bum. Ok I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that its the long hair and mustache. So after 25 minutes no one comes to talk to me I walk out and say fuck this I’ll go to Best Buy in Denver.
Now expedition two is a little better as I have ventured out of Slummit County with my co hort in crime Boner. Now I have a decent goggle tan line but Boner’s is on a whole other level. So we go to the Best Buy and make our endless trek through the aisles of video game software to the Mac section. I start playing around with the Macbooks and Macbook pro’s. 15 minutes goes by and the only person working the section is still with his customers, now I’m not one to be rude and interrupt when someones in the middle of a sale, perhaps its just that I hate when people do it to me. So I start venturing behind the big black wall of Mac looking for more of these fabled blue shirted sales people. Alas like dust in the wind they vanish quickly from my sight. So I head back to the computer and finally this person who looks a bit startled at my appearance asks me if I need help. Of course I say yes and that I want to buy a Macbook tonight. I tell him I have some questions, which his response is to answer questions I’m not even going to ask. But for financing he sends me to customer service.
Ok cool I’ll venture the 30 feet down to this customer service they speak of. So as I get there I’m greeted by a blonde haired maiden dealing with some irrate customers. I do not envy her job at all, but I crack some jokes to make her feel better and hopefully expedite my ability to finance said lap top. Finally after going through the whole filling the form process and standing around waiting for her (30 more minutes) I am informed that my limit is only 600 dollars. Cool I can drop 600 bucks and pay the rest in cold hard cash. So back to the Mac station we venture.
This is where I see how scared people are to sell. No one will talk to me now. I’m looking left and right. Boner is using one of their display computers to see how much a Mac would run me from Apple directly. At this point I just scream I have 1,200 dollars to spend with you people does anyone want to help me. This is to no avail and me make the journey back to the car.
Upon leaving there and stopping at the mighty Quiznos I decide to call Apple directly. Ironically the sales representative I’m talking to is named Mac. He is very jovial on the phone with me and has helped me so far with getting set up to buy my Macbook.
Now I find it shitty that the best customer service I got is from a random stranger over the phone. But I think this is the sad state of affairs we’re in right now. Best Buy can be complacent because Circuit City has been dealt the final blow and will wither and die shortly. This is leading them to believe they’re safe. I know I don’t look like someone that would have the cash to drop on a high end item, but looks can be deceiving.
This is the sad state we’re in. People are too scared to try and actually sell someone something they’d rather show up and just point at things. Whether its the fear of talking to someone or just the fear of rejection that the person you’re attempting to help will be upset with the purchase.
Being one to prefer shopping in person with direct interacation with people. But as I’ve noticed around here a lot of the shops suffer from these problems. This isn’t only alienating the customer from having a relationship with the shop, but its sending people to the internet where having detached interaction is ok because its two people dealing with each other from opposite ends of the world.
I’ve talked about my thoughts and feelings on local and online shops in the past on here. So rather than just rehash what I’ve said I’ll link to the main article for your perusing enjoyment. The big point to make right now is that with this recession so many places are set up for failure based on the fear that seizes their employees at the core. Just managing your expenses on advertising, keeping an eye on inventory, and cutting back as needed isn’t going to do shit. The cold hard fact is all your power as a retailer lies in your employees. If they aren’t passionate and have a drive to help people they’re going to be the first dominoe to tip in the row causing the catastrophic collapse of your institution. Look at what I went through I wanted to spend money, I have a 60% expendible income because of how I live my life and yet people don’t want to help me. If someone wants to spend money in this day and age help them.
Yes this probably sounds like something Jeff Harbaugh would write for Transworld Business. Truth be told I’ve been reading a lot of what he has to say lately and its on point. If you get the chance check this out as well.