Thursday, January 28, 2010

Changing the course…

I didn’t blog on Tuesday because I was playing Scrabble all day attending a fundraiser for Haiti with Shelley. I did manage to break away from that star studded event to go to the grocery store and run a couple of otherwise boring errands.

Being a “stay at home person” has its advantages. I usually have the stores to myself and therefore have the freedom to wander around, lost in my own thoughts. This is what happened the other day whilst I was at Target.

I was wandering up and down the aisles, thinking, shopping, occasionally checking to see if it was my turn on Scrabble prices for comparison. I really managed to get into a personal zone.

When I reached the checkout, I waited patiently for the cashier to finish wishing the lady ahead of me a good day and that she liked her purse and also that she hoped it wouldn’t rain this weekend.

As I finished putting my items on the belt, a quick flash of annoyance passed over me. I thought to myself, please don’t start up a lengthy conversation with me, I’m in my zone and there’s only room for me. I tried not to make eye contact. For about 2 seconds.

Then I realized something. How self absorbed am I?! I mean, friendliness and customer service are my number one pet peeves. And here this sweet gal is, making sure everyone has a nice day and I can’t be bothered to look her in the eye? I quickly changed my line of thinking, smiled at her and proceeded with a small conversation about how good fresh Brussels sprouts are and how I, too, hoped it wouldn’t rain this weekend.

On the drive home, it bothered me that I had so quickly tossed aside the friendliness of a cashier because it would have intruded on my thoughts. This is so not like me. I’m usually the one to tell them to have a nice day. How had this happened?

At first, I blamed all the other non-friendly people who can’t be bothered to say “Thank you for shopping at with us today and spending your hard earned money, we appreciate your business, this is a bad economy and you have choices to where you shop. We’re glad you chose us.” Or at the very least, look at you and smile when you hand over those hard earned dollars.

I blamed the endless stream of floor persons who sigh heavily when asked to help you find something because “it’s not their department” or dressing room attendants who give you dirty looks when you have 5 items instead of the limit of 4, even though you are the only one in there. And what about the kid at the drive thru window who hands your bag out the window and then promptly shuts it so you can’t ask for ketchup. Have you met some of these people? So you know.  It makes you want to put your head down and get in and get out.

After a while, it would stand to reason that as a society, we would harden ourselves so not to have to deal with people like that. It’s like a thick coating of scar tissue. It’s been picked at so many times, there’s no feeling left. So now, most people don’t even try to be nice and polite to strangers. It’s become too far out of the norm. Get in, get out, make no small talk and for Pete’s sake, don’t make eye contact.

And then I wondered…maybe it’s the other way around? Maybe the floor persons and drive thru kids and dressing room ladies are that way because of people not bothering with small talk. People who yell, make demands and even curse at them. Those who look annoyed when the cashier comments on the something they’re buying, trying to make small talk. The many who grab their bags and rush off and don’t take the time to wish them a good day back. Or worse yet, those who would look down on them from within their expensive suits and think less of the person wearing the blue vest. As if that person doesn’t even deserve the cordial greetings of a civilized society. I would imagine that would wear down even Gidget, after a while.

Could the lack of customer goodness have an effect on good customer service? Something to think about, isn’t it?

I noticed the name tag on the girl at Target said she was a new associate. Let me say this:

Thank you Target girl, for helping me see the error of my ways, however brief. I am making a conscious effort not to become one of “them”. I will always treat you and your colleagues as I myself would like to be treated when I come into your store. Keep up the good work, and don’t let them bring you down. You’re doing great.

We get as good as we give.

Let’s not forget that.

Wordless Wednesday…with some words…

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