Monday, January 5, 2015

I Bought a Suit

Two days before Christmas, I walked into a well-known national department store. I had two missions: buy a suit and get out quickly. I went in shortly after the store opened to beat the crowds, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the employees more than doubled the customers when I went in. 

  • I was never greeted when I walked in the door.
  • No one asked me if they could help me.
  • I had to go find someone to help me find the right size.
  • The employee who "helped" me was less than enthusiastic about measuring me and only took one measurement.
  • I was left to traipse across the store multiple times to find my size.
I almost walked out, but I really needed a suit and the sale was a good sale. I finally got a fit I thought looked good and walked out to the cash register.  My "helper" said it looked perfect and I bought it. (Later in the day, I tried it on for my wife who told me how ridiculously large it was on me. I took it back.)

With all the lousy customer service running around that day, I was amused by these signs on just about all the mirrors. 

I took my new suit, hopped in the car, and drove across the street to Kroger. I have always been impressed with the customer service at Kroger. I remember grocery shopping on Fourth of July with my 5 year old, stressed out.  I took my list to a worker with a few things I couldn't find. He walked me to each item, and I went home happy.  December 23rd was even better.  They had people walking around the store with bright (ugly) yellow shirts that said something like, "Can't find it? Ask me." I almost took a picture of these people but didn't want to appear to be some weirdo.

Two stores. Same message. Different outcome.  Is it metaphorical that in one store the message is on a mirror and in the other store the message is on a T-shirt.  Does the burden fall on the person you are looking at to help you with your questions? 

As a teacher, I am in the customer service industry. It is my job to help these kids in my room learn and achieve. All too often I have taken the laissez faire attitude adopted by the department store.  "You know where to find me. If you need help, I'm here." It's not terrible to put the burden of learning on the student.  After all, grit builds character. Wisdom comes through trials.  However, there's something to be said for the teacher who is actively walking around looking for students who need help.  A friendly face, a welcoming smile, and an occasional "How can I help you?" goes a long long way. 

Where is your offer of help - the mirror or your shirt? 

Suit Update:
I normally ignore the online survey on my receipts, but I couldn't resist this one.  I wrote a scathing review of my customer service.  Not surprisingly, a manager called me, apologizing profusely. I was surprised that she mailed me a $25 gift card to smooth things over.  While this is great, I would rather hit the nail on the head the first time rather than try to woo an angered customer back.

The day after the suit fiasco, we went to Men's Wearhouse, had excellent service (two people working with little ol' me!) and bought a beautiful suit! 

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