Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Alex's Adventures in Retail

Wow! I have ten followers! I am truly flattered! :-)

I'm so sorry I haven't blogged in like eight years. I just started this new retail job. I'm working customer service at Kohl's.

Kohl's, by the way, is an amazing store. It really, really is. I absolutely love the store, the products, the return policy, and especially my managers and coworkers. My store has the absolute most amazing group of people committed to the store, the customers, and most importantly, each other. I've made a couple friends here that I know I will have as friends for life.

The customers, however, are the dumbest, rudest, dishonest, confused, and disheartening group of people I've ever worked with.

Okay, that's not true. Approximately 80% of the customers are not a problem. They're kind, they're patient, and they understand if something isn't going to work out quite how they expected or hoped. Of that 80%, 24% or so are downright amazing (20% of 100%). They laugh, they smile, they joke, sometimes they even help me do my job correctly. A good chunk of this 24% is made up of husbands who couldn't give less of a fuck about what happens, because "[they're] the patient, [I'm] the doctor," what happens happens, and they'll take what they can get. They're sent by their wives who they wish would just shut the fuck up. They're thrilled to be out of the house, and can't even believe how quick, easy, and painless it is to do returns at Kohl's. I love husbands!

But for every easy-to-please husband and jovial middle-aged housewife, we have a horrible customer. That last 20% of people are horrible, horrible people.
It's the woman who, no matter how many times you explain it to her, insists that she get the full return price of the item, despite getting a 30% discount of her original purchase.
It's the Indian woman (I'm sorry, they always are) who buys a bunch of items with a gift card and then tries to return them for cash, and gets upset when I have to return it as in-store credit.
It's the eighty-year old woman who comes in four times in the same week to scream at me about rebates and credit fraud, accepting no answer as a correct answer despite having spoken to several managers.
It's the Indian man (I'm sorry, they always are) who wants to return receiptless, tagless, washed and worn pants purchased in 2003 that reek of curry and mothballs.
It's the 27 year old mother of two toddlers who returns clearly heavily worn shoes.
It's the 60 year old man who returns a watch that stopped working... a watch he purchased 25 years ago.

I'm not going to tell you if we were able to help these people or not, because I don't want you turning into them. It's very tempting to become a total asshole. The people behind the customer service desk are real people. We're real people with real lives... and quite frankly, we don't care about you. I know it's the harsh truth - we just don't care about you. Think about it - we're a corporation. We care about your money - of course we'll bend over backwards for you. We want to get paid. Of course, this "caring" trickles down to us, in customer service. We're trained to genuinely care about you, so that you keep coming back, and corporate headquarters can genuinely care about your money.

Me? I care. Everyone else at customer service cares too. That's the scary part - we really do. Who we care for, though, are the 80% that help make our day a little better. The 80% of you that understand that we're not your bitch, and that we are there to do our jobs the best we possibly can, we applaud you, and take care of you with all the enthusiasm we're able to muster. I feel bad when I've had a bad customer, and it's left me so discouraged that I can't great and treat you with proper enthusiasm and positivity. That happened to me today - after an onslaught of cruel customers clearly sent from Hades to make my day a living hell, we had a few customers who really were a delight to work with, but the most I could muster up was a half-hearted hello and a forged smile.

If you're one of those petty patrons out to be a downer on my day, don't. Stay at home - take out your soreness and spite on some other soul, but leave mine out of it. My job entails getting shit on for eight hours a day, I don't need your beef on top of it.

The next time you go into a retail place - JCPenny's, Macy's, Wal*Mart, Target, Kohl's, etc., I want you to do something for me. I want you to go to their customer service counter, and I want you to say:

"I just want to say that you're doing an amazing job. Keep your head up, okay?"

Sometimes, that's all we need to hear.

1 comment:

  1. You've got your finger on the pulse already.
    (no pun)

    It's all true. And yes, I very much (palpably) feel your pain. On all levels. Twas exactly the same at my place. Gets even more fun when you're higher up the ladder and the last person in line to satisfy Mr. Impossible.

    I actually (more than once) said (in a very polite fashion, of course):
    "Bottom line it for me. What can I DO to make this better for you?"

    Works like a charm ;)

    Good luck and congrats on doing a great job with a great crew! :)