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Thread summary:

Retail store help: inadequate ration of employees vs. customers, impending purchases, online research

 
Old 07-19-2008, 10:55 PM
 
Location: Tennessee/Michigan
28,436 posts, read 48,208,507 times
Reputation: 20125

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Imagine standing in a retail store desperately looking for help from someone, anyone, and being directed to … a computer screen.

“No one here can help you," a clerk might say. "But someone 1,500 miles away probably can."

The end of human help in stores? - The Red Tape Chronicles - MSNBC.com (http://redtape.msnbc.com/2008/07/the-end-of-huma.html#posts - broken link)
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Old 07-19-2008, 11:03 PM
 
Location: Fort Mill, SC (Charlotte 'burb)
4,730 posts, read 17,904,093 times
Reputation: 1014
I thought any type of help in stores was already gone.
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Old 07-20-2008, 07:10 PM
 
Location: in my mind
2,745 posts, read 13,233,989 times
Reputation: 1610
Yeah, same here... I doubt there's much to be missed!
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Old 07-20-2008, 07:40 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
30,612 posts, read 68,195,537 times
Reputation: 16304
The problem is that the ratio of employees to customers is vastly inadequate to properly tend to everyone's inquiries. I've sometimes spent upwards of 45 minutes with just one customer while working at Lowe's as they lambaste me with question after question about their impending purchase. I'm also often alone in my rather busy department, which means that while I'm helping one of those customers others must push call buttons and stand there impatiently as I grimace that I can't break myself free from the first customer to respond to their needs as well.

People need to start educating themselves at least minimally about impending purchases. The days of "Uncle Billy Bob's Corner Hardware Store" are over. I love to take my time making sure our customers are satisfied, but that's also assuming there aren't several others backlogged who are likewise just important with questions that are just as valid as the next. I'm clueless about many things, so if I'm pondering making a major (or even somewhat minor) purchase I will log onto my computer and spend an hour or more compiling research from Consumer Reports, customer reviews, manufacturers' (and retailers') websites, etc. in order to read up on something to minimize the amount of time I would be holding up a sales associate so that he or she could tend to someone who perhaps had less of an ability to do that very same pre-research. It's called adapting to the times, folks.

I notice that contractors are generally speaking the worst customers you could ever ask for at Lowe's. They insist on special discounts and will threaten to take their business elsewhere if we don't meed their "demands." They feel as if their time is more valuable than the time of the homeowner who walked into the store just ahead of them and beat them to asking me a question. Most are foul-mouthed, very unprofessional, and I've come close to punching out a few of them who made some rather nasty anti-gay remarks near my presence that I couldn't determine the direction of.

I do my best daily to have everyone leave our store with a smile planted firmly upon their face. However, those very same people really need to get off their high horses and realizes that store employees are not "things" or "servants." We are people. When a customer whistles loudly down an aisle at me to grab my attention, I will often ignore them. A simple "excuse me" or "can you help me" works better than treating me like their canine. Speaking of dogs, since when should I "fetch" things for you. I'm not even a college graduate and my vocabulary has many better words to draw from than ones that are insulting and demeaning.

I challenge everyone who thinks we retail warriors are "lazy", "stupid", "unmotivated", etc. to work one day in our shoes. I'll hand you my department phone that never ceases to ring, give you command over responding to our multiple departmental call buttons, direct the 90% of the customers who enter our building who have difficult questions about lawn tractors from now-defunct manufacturers that they bought in the 1980s to you, tell management to make you responsible for timely completion of work lists for random visits from the district manager, etc. Then I'll give you my pay rate of $10/hr. and say "enjoy." It's not as "cushy" as you people would like to think. Believe it or not there are more customers at Lowe's who have more positive experiences than negative ones; the satisfied customers are merely ungrateful and refuse to go out of their way to pay a compliment to management (as I will gladly do when I'm out shopping) whereas the minority who are repelled draw the most attention.
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Old 08-03-2008, 03:12 AM
 
126 posts, read 236,185 times
Reputation: 156
So, they're replacing a twenty year old who can't spell, add or speak English with a computer screen.

I don't see a problem here.
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Old 08-03-2008, 02:24 PM
 
Location: Maryland
1,667 posts, read 8,479,249 times
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I understand the frustration of Lowe's employees being overwhelmed, but the same goes with the customer. I'd like to, just once, buy a ceiling fan, or an appliance, and not have to return to the store to replace a broken or missing item in the box. My time is valuable, too. But, if I want to avoid sales people, I'll shop the internet. When I go to a store, I like to deal with a human who speaks my language.
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Old 08-07-2008, 03:17 PM
 
8,862 posts, read 15,039,484 times
Reputation: 2280
[quote=ScranBarre;4535421]The problem is that the ratio of employees to customers is vastly inadequate to properly tend to everyone's inquiries. I've sometimes spent upwards of 45 minutes with just one customer while working at Lowe's as they lambaste me with question after question about their impending purchase. I'm also often alone in my rather busy department, which means that while I'm helping one of those customers others must push call buttons and stand there impatiently as I grimace that I can't break myself free from the first customer to respond to their needs as well.

QUOTE]

Good points, Scranton. You are obviously a 'Rare Breed' of retail employee.

Here in Atlanta--the problem is the retail employees feel 'Put Upon' it seems if asked to answer the simplest question.

Last fall I visited a Target during the AM hours. Did not want to select a cell phone but it was necessary. There was a wall of of cell phones--I was overwhelmed. I wanted a simple one and didn't want to pay a lot. There was a sales associate standing at the electronics counter in a virtually empty store. I asked if she could help me. She was not so inclined. Another sales associate happened along and I beseeched her to help me compare several phones then the first one came over and more or less said I would have to fend for myself. I also was considering headphones and there were many but none seemed to match the cell phones. I tried to ask how I would find headphones to go with a particular cell phone. It became intense.

Several associates gathered and it was obvious to me that I was now the 'Difficult Customer'. When the cashier rolled her eyes at me as I was paying for the purchases I was not pleased. I spent many days, nights, weekends and holidays working in retail while obtaining my Master's and teaching full time. No employer of mine would have tolerated this sort of staff and attitude.

So I called the corporate office and named names. I haven't been back to this Target--they also have an arrogant witch in charge of Customer Service--apparently adamantly refuses to put more cashiers on the registers no matter how long the lines are. Other Targets operate differently so I shop there.

If we, consumers, are to be totally self-sufficient then the stores need to at least place scanning devices in many locations about the store. Sometimes I 'Just Have to Ask' where things are--hope a smart computer can be programmed with some kind of GPS.

Yes, I am sick and tired of this kind of retail. I go to Walmart--somehow they have found ways to accomodate their customers and no one has ever rolled her eyes at me. It is a 'Big Box' but it works reasonably well.

Sometimes, with my extensive background, I assist customers as frantic to know where to find items as I am--hoping that I am building Karma or something. For some English is a second language and they are very appreciative when they receive help. That is gratifying. Locals are frequently not so courteous--our locals are primarily from other areas, FWIW.

No need to 'Remember' how it was--Atlanta was once a more courteous city --now it is enough not to blasted with obscenities or in some areas assaulted.

I was shopping in a Goodwill store an employee nearly blew me away with his courteous request to complete an evaluation of the store/service. I did and recommended that this young man be given a raise. If Goodwill is training employees like this--then the Others had better watch out. I love to shop at Goodwill and will remember this employee for years to come.

TakeAhike
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