Christmas cheer and customer serviceWritten by Kevin Milliken | | firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ve all spent the last few weeks running here and there, hither and yon to finish our Christmas shopping. As the days get closer to Christmas, the crowds get more crushing, the lines get longer, and the cashiers get grumpier.
Thursday night, my wife and I went to the mall after work for a round of power shopping to finish my side of the family before an early holiday get-together. Yes, it was after dark and we were willing to risk another food court fight to get our gift selections done. Somewhere in the crowd that night were Mayor Finkbeiner and the police chief, making sure there was no unruliness not to be tolerated. Yet, somehow we missed them.
We had to return one item that would not fit the recipient. The customer service reps at the store could not have been more rude, telling us in two different places we had come to the wrong counter. The attitude displayed made it seem like we had committed a federal offense for even asking.
That experience put my wife on edge for the last time. A couple of days before at the same store, she wanted to purchase an exercise machine for our family. There was one conveniently boxed up next to the counter. She asked about it and a clerk cheerfully told her she could buy it.
Out of nowhere, a second clerk loudly spoke up and said no, vehemently declaring that the exercise machine in question was being “reserved” for a co-worker’s boss from a second job. She proceeded to tell my wife she would have to go to the catalog section back on the first floor of the store. The first clerk stood her ground and reiterated it was OK to buy that particular exercise machine.
With a sigh heard ’round the world, the second clerk picked up the phone to call either the co-worker or a supervisor. She had not waited to hear the first clerk tell her that the co-worker had already picked up a spare exercise machine for her boss. No apology, no nothing — the clerk just walked away muttering nastiness under her breath.
At that point I would have walked out of that store, never to return. I would have muttered nastiness under my breath as I walked away, too — probably something akin to organizing a nationwide boycott of that particular store chain. However, my wife is a whole lot more patient and forgiving than I am, so she bought what she wanted.
First of all, layaway at most stores had gone the way of the dodo. Second, when did the store itself become self-serving, the place of convenience for the store clerk and friends, instead of the shopper who’s plunking down their hard-earned cash?
Before I tear apart the customer service industry completely, we did find a shining example of what should be happening for every Christmas shopper, everywhere.
This clerk was the most pleasant woman we’ve met all holiday season, and outhustled every other counter in the store. Her line may have gone 10 people deep, but every shopper received courtesy, warmth, and a solid answer to any question.
Here’s the twist: the physically challenged clerk was older than any other store worker, and made every last one of them look lazy. Many of the other clerks did a good enough job of that themselves, but it was too bad this woman’s wonderful attitude and great work ethic failed to rub off on the other 99 percent of the work force.
Merry Christmas, Lydia, and thank you for restoring my faith in the whole Christmas shopping experience. May the rest of those customer service reps find coal in their stockings.
May you and your family have a Merry Christmas and joyous holiday season. Here’s also best wishes for many happy returns on Dec. 26 — and a whole lot more Lydias to handle your exchanges with a pleasant smile.
Kevin Milliken hosts of “Eye on Toledo” on WSPD 1370.