Friday, August 1, 2008

may i help you?

I am not big on shopping, but when I do it I usually leave the store mildly annoyed. What has happened to customer service today? It seems to have gone to two extremes and neither one makes for a pleasant shopping experience.

The first is the overly-helpful-to-the-point-of-phony-enthusiastic-"can I help you" type that feels like an overly needy lover that does not give you an inch of space. They greet you with a too cheerful "Hello, hi, how are you? Can I help you find anything?" before you even pass the first overpriced item. Um, ease up there, Cowboy, I just got here. "Well, my name is Charles and let me know if you need any help?" (feigning weak smile of acknowledgement in hopes that he doesn't approach me again to start a "conversation" about the latest "hot item" that they just got in, exclusively to their store. (Hey, didn't I see that in the last overpriced boutique?)

The other is the cooler-than-thou sales associate that cannot be bothered to even give you a hello when you have entered the store and are standing in front of a high priced item trying to figure out what features brand B has, that A is missing. Or the coffee shop where they'll get your order together but will not actually hand it to you until you interrupt their conversation about which new lousy band has more relevance in today's political atmosphere. Then they push your order into reach with a look of annoyance on their face. (Yeah, have a nice day and both those bands suck and have no relevance to anything.) When did it change that you have to look like you fit into a certain role in order to get good customer service? Apparently, I am just not cool enough to expect decent service, and you have the nerve to put a tip jar on the counter? For shame!

Yes, I know there are people who take some pride in their jobs and provide truly good service, and I always give kudos to those that do (especially since many customers are rude and obnoxious). I wish I could have had a taste of the days when customer service was in it's heyday. When you could walk into an establishment and the people there knew you by name and were truly glad to see you and help you get what you want. And you, Mr Customer, were happy to come back again and again, not just for their quality wares, but for the friendly smile and, yes...quality customer service. I long for this.

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