Have you heard about customer service in Whitehorse? Most comments I’ve heard aren’t very positive, but apparently, there’s a drastic shortage of service workers in town. That surely doesn’t help our customer service situation.
With the start of the school year, I needed to get several school supplies which brought me into our local “big” office supply store. For those of you unfamiliar with it, their counters are an upside-down U-shape with a cash register in each corner of the U. I spotted a cashier behind one of the counters (all others were empty), so I made my way to her counter.
I put my goods down and stood there for a moment, waiting to be acknowledged: no luck.
I made noise with my keys: still, no luck.
I cleared my throat (loud enough to be heard): still, no luck.
I said: “Hello-o!” Finally! She looks up, and without moving, simply says, “that cash is closed, you’ll have to come to the other side, then continued with whatever she was doing.
Now keep in mind that the two cash registers are behind the same counter, and it’s just a matter of her taking an extra step or two toward me. But the problem here wasn’t that I had to move my stuff to the other side of the “U”, that wasn’t such a big deal. Afterall, that particular counter was closed. The problem was the feeling of being ignored. So, once I picked up all my stuff to bring to the other side only to be served by the same cashier, I just couldn’t hold my tongue.
I said: “So, do you normally just ignore people who don’t happen to be standing at the right counter?”
“I didn’t ignore you,” she responded.
“I have to say, that’s what it felt like.”
“I thought you were one of our staff,” was her reply.
Now, I don’t know about you, but the last time I checked, staff usually wear bright red polo shirts. I didn’t have a speck of red on me, except maybe my nail polish. She obviously didn’t even look.
I know I may be sounding a bit negative here, but if it was a one time deal, it happens. I could deal with a store that has decent service and the odd bad day. But it wasn’t the first time I’d had this kind of service.
I guess in a way I was partly to blame. I hate box stores and I still found myself going there for the sake of convenience. I stand guilty. I think it’ll be Whitehorse Business Machines for me from now on. Afterall, No One Makes You Shop at Wal-Mart.
You want a more positive story?
During my first year in Whitehorse, I found myself working as a bank teller, which meant being on my feet all day. Since I liked to dress business-like, I needed a good pair of comfortable flat dress shoes. During my lunch break, I took a walk down the block to Shoes “R” Us, where I got an excellent, albeit expensive, pair of flat dress shoes.
Women’s shoe manufacturers tend to like to skip size 9½, which happens to be my size. After size 9, you can rarely find half sizes. As a result, I often end up with ill-fitting shoes. Anyway, to make a long story short, I buy a pair of shoes, and a couple of months later, one shoe is coming apart on one side. I take them in to the store only expecting to have them shipped for repair (because at the time there were no shoe repair stores in Whitehorse). The store owner took one look at the shoes, went to the back to get another pair (one size larger), and brought them back. These weren’t cheap shoes; as a matter of fact, I had never paid so much before for a pair of shoes. However, five years later, I still wear them, and they still look like new.
So, is all customer service bad in Whitehorse? Obviously not. I’ve had excellent service in many businesses: Coffee Tea & Spice, Whitehorse Business Machines, Shoes “R” Us, and The Java Connection to name a few. Unfortunately, the bad experiences tend to stay with us, I think, because they evoke stronger emotion. I’ve heard of studies indicating that when a business deals with a customer service problem quickly and efficiently, the customer in question ends up with a higher level of satisfaction and loyalty than if nothing had ever happened. I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s certainly good practice.