Friday, December 19, 2008

How much customer service is too much?

I was reading another blog where the writer was pointing out her annoyance at a comic store employee asking her if she needed help. And I am more inclined to side with the writer, mostly because the guy did sound kinda dumb. On the flip side of that, I wonder how often people take into consideration the fact that we are working a retail job and that more often than not the management/ownership wants the employees to ask people if they need help.

There are different degrees of this, to be sure. I always try to say hello right as soon a person comes in, and after a while ask if they need any help. Of course, a lot of the time I am straight up ignored when I say hello, so my inclination to ask if they need help is not so great. Sometimes, people just need to be left alone. Then you have the people who obviously need help because they keep putting stuff in the wrong place. But y'know, they don't think they need your help. Then you have people who can perfectly navigate the store or are just obviously browsing.

It is, however, our job to see if you need any help. So I am always interested to hear people complain about comic employees asking. I try to take into account some additional factors though. Honestly, sometimes comic employees do go a little gaga over female customers. A manager of mine from a while back would even go so far as to interrupt me if I was helping a cute girl and interject himself into the conversation. I understand that female customers may feel very apprehensive about the store employee trying to help them. I like to think I don't try this shit, but to be honest I would prefer to help a female customer over a fanboy who wants to complain about the Hulk movies or some shit. So hopefully that doesn't just come off as me wanting to only help cute girls, and more like a sane preference.

It always strikes me as just a poor choice to not have any female employees. Straight up, I believe it helps to create a better atmosphere and a more comfortable shopping experience for everyone. But the female employee needs to be prepared for the fanboy interaction. Cause the fact of the matter is the unwashed masses are going to notice her and are definitely going to behave differently.

But how much help is too much help? I try to only ever ask once, and then go back to work. But then I read reviews online that complain about the clerk not prying himself away from the counter. Was this me? Was this someone else? We have a staff of 6, so hell it could be anyone either being lazy or just taking a break. There is no way to tell exactly how people are going to perceive you and interact with you. I've had people wait at the register as I am filing books, and they never ask for help. Then they look pissed, and I just have to think "Look hey I'm the only one here, I'm doing multiple jobs at once, is it really that hard to just ask me for help?" Of course, I can't actually say that.

Then you have someone come in and compliment you for making the store a comfortable environment for them, like I did yesterday. And this person was someone I would not describe as a fanboy but just someone who greatly enjoy comics. So hey, we must be doing something right some of the time.

I pretty much find retail solace in the idea that you just ain't gonna make everybody happy, so you might as well just accept people having something negative to say and do your best to keep the happy ones happy.

And it will all be moot anyways once I finish construction on the mighty mecha-gorilla army.

I'm adding missile wrist launchers to their design, I think. Because that shit is tight.


D0nnaTr0y said...

Hey there-

I had to chuckle when I read this latest post! As the example used in this introduction, I want to say that the particular employee that was annoying me was in fact very polite. He just caught me on a bad afternoon and it took him awhile to sense that. I don't begrudge him any hard feeling.

As a shopper, I usually prefer the employees to ask once, tell me their name and offer their services should I need it, then leave me alone. As you said, it frustrating either way- when you need help no one offers, and when you don't, there is always someone there.

As a comic shopper, I don't usually get bothered though I often feel intimidated to ask questions about certain books because comic book employees can often take their job a little too seriously and end up making you feel dumb.

Continually Spicy said...

Sorry, I didn't mean to put you in the spotlight! I figured not many people read me anyway to actually connect references to specific blogs :P It just got me thinking, is all.

And I only really said 'dumb' for that guy mostly because of the Tiny Titans 'Buying for children' part. Because I love Art Baltazar and think that DC & Marvel's younger reader titles are actually better products than their 'mature' counterparts. So when I hear something like that, I kinda also go on the defensive.

Btw, Booster's Gold and Earth-11 are awesome titles ;)