Working in Sales; An Open Letter to Customers
I understand that you've had a bad day, that you're stressed out, frustrated because the store is busy and that you can't find what you need. I will try to help you, but could you at the very least accept that kindness will get you very far in the employee-customer interaction.
I understand that people have bad days, because I have bad days, and I would have generally assumed that most people take out their anger and stress in a civil manner (as in not taking it out on a complete stranger.) Presently, and after a stressful year of working in retail and sales, it's getting harder to make the assumption that everyone is generally a decent human being. So this is an open letter to any one who finds themselves grumpily walking into a store or has already done so. It won't apply to everybody, just some people, because I'd still like to believe that almost everyone is decent.
I do understand that you may have had a bad day and that you could be very stressed; it happens to the best of us. Please don't take it out on me because I'm just trying to get through the day without wanting to cry, plus I don't think my manager would like to hear that I've "accidentally" hit you with the buggy I was pushing. If you're going to be immature, I'm going to be immature. I have an excuse though, I'm still in my teens.
I may have just started my shift and have not completely figured out where the morning staff have decided to move everything; my manager doesn't give that information out to us when we walk in. I'm just as confused as you are, but please don't be mad at me when I take 5 minutes to bring you back a pack of garbage bags that were at the front door instead of in front of the bread section (where they were last week.) I won't judge you for not seeing them when you walked in, I didn't see them either. When you grumble and say I've wasted your time, I am offended; I could have pointed you towards the information desk, but I decided to stop what I was doing and bring you what you asked for. I'll still smile and say have a nice day as I continue my work because I'm polite, but if I see you walking towards me at any later point during your shopping trip, I will run down the next aisle to avoid you.
If you've decided to yell at me because you don't think that I'm doing something correctly, it makes me really uncomfortable. First of all, I hate confrontation. Secondly, I'm doing what I've been trained to do, exactly how I've been trained to do it and I'm barely meeting time requirements for how long it takes me to tidy an aisle. You've decided to take up my time because you don't like the way that the bin that I'm piling cardboard boxes into only allows enough space to allow two large buggys through the aisle; one buggy on each side of the bin. Would it be better if I put the bin on the side of the aisle and blocked the store's product? There are better ways to make complaints. Can I suggest going to a supervisor at the front desk or phoning the administrative office? If you make a complaint about me, to my face and only to my face, the only thing that's going to my manager is that I felt personally harassed by a customer.
"Joking," with a very serious face, that you want to kill everybody in the store makes me very uncomfortable and I do want to immediately go to security afterwards. Don't get upset if you see security paying extra attention to you if you make a comment like that. I don't want to die. I understand that this is a busy store, that might have something to do with the fact that you've chosen to come on a Friday after normal working hours, but you could have come at a different time. I suggest right after we open or thirty minutes before closing time. The lines to pay will be shorter, I promise. Your frustration will all but disappear.
If you need my attention a simple "hello" or "excuse me" will do the job. As soon as I put down whatever I was doing my attention is on you. It's a small interaction, but it's polite, it puts a smile on my face, and I'm more likely to genuinely want to help you. Ramming into my back or side with a metal buggy does not make me want to help you in any way, shape, or form. Not only is it demeaning, aggressive, and rude, but it's also painful and I end up with bruises all over me the next day. If you do this, I can guarantee, that you weren't able to find what you were looking for where I had told you it was going to be. That would be because I, while holding in the fact that I want to curl up in a ball and cry because I feel abused and belittled, have pointed you in the complete opposite direction and then hid whenever I saw you afterwards. Hiding from you is cowardly, yes. Ramming another human being with a large metal object, rude. How dare you.
Finally, if I smile at you, smile back. If I say "hello," a "hello" in return is always nice. If I say "have a nice day," the very least that I'm expecting is a smile in return.
Thank you, have a nice day, and please don't be offended because I'm always going to try and immediately think the best of you. I've had bad days too.