Monday, 17 September 2012

Customer Code

It’s very easy to complain about grumpy shop assistants and poor customer services, but we have certain responsibilities as a customer too. Yes, I really did say that!

A short time ago I was queuing behind a customer paying at a branch of Superdrug, who let rip at the cashier for asking whether she would like “any stamps or mobile phone top-up today?”

Now I know these parrot-fashion phrases can be very irritating (see below), but the poor assistants are drilled to say them, or risk reprimand or public flogging or something.

Anyway, there I was trying to placate the tearful, (painfully, in my eyes) young, assistant in the wake of the cruel customer’s outburst, assuring the girl that she was doing a good job and advising not to let the odd dodgy customer get to her.

Back to shops’ stock phrases, top of my list of most annoying are:
- “Did you find everything you wanted today?” used by a High Street fashion retailer (name begins with New and ends with Look). Very tempting to answer “No, do you have some jeans which make me look a size 8, a dress that makes me look 20 years younger (gracefully, not mutton-like) and the answer to the meaning of life”. Of course I usually just say, “Yes, thanks”.

- “Sorry to keep you waiting!” when I have walked straight up to the till, without as much as a glimpse of the departing rear of the previous customer. I usually reply, “I haven’t waited”, which usually elicits a sheepish look and a nervous giggle from the cashier.

Come on retailers; please coach your staff to only use these types of phrases when they are a) appropriate to the situation and b) likely to get a sensible answer.

A final thought on being a good customer. When faced with a really gloomy, grumpy assistant, smile defiantly throughout the transaction. There is great satisfaction to be had by cracking a smile on the grumpiest of faces – try it some time!

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