Saturday, May 1, 2010

Customer service in St. John’s sucks

I realize that’s a rather bold statement but it is my experience of retail service in the city. When I go into a retail establishment, I expect a decent level of service in return for my spending money there. When I am met with indifference, rudeness and, in many cases, a complete lack of knowledge of the product inventory, I have to wonder why many of these places stay open. There are exceptions but there are few of them in my experience. Much of it goes back to an earlier post I had here about the lack of engagement on the part of so many people today.  They lack fundamental social skills. A classic example for me a few days ago was the Subway sandwich store on Kelsey Drive. (Calling it a restaurant would be hyperbole) It was almost as if I had to try to keep the young man working behind the counter focused on what he was doing between him bantering with his female co-worker and watching cars in the parking lot; when he wrapped the sandwich and put it aside to return to other customers, I had to ask if I could pay for it NOW. Is there not an attempt on the part of management to train these people in even the most rudimentary customer service skills? I realize these minimum wage jobs are not the best in the world, but the employees fail to make the connection between my purchase and their salary. Often, those who expect tips fail to make the connection too. In my world, minimal service equals no tip. I doubt if they ever stop to consider why there was no tip … probably put it down to “cheap bastard”. If any retail business owners are reading this, take the time to teach your employees customer service; otherwise I simply won’t be back.  Oh yea, one other thing: teach them how to say THANK YOU.


Wisewebwoman said...

I so agree with you, VP, I had a very disturbing experience at a photo shop
in Churchill Square, complete disconnect. Pics not ready on time, totally disinterested when I wanted to place a large order for cards AND buy a new camera. I won't be back, needless to mention, I figured they lost thousands of dollars in business for placing one bored, snotty lout on the cash.
(BTW - Know of a good camera/photo place in St. John's?)
The only reasonable consistently good sandwich place for me is Timmies.

ViewPoint2010 said...

While I realize that most of the evidence we have is anecdotal, there is SO MUCH such evidence that retailers in St. John’s should take a serious look. Example, I went into a discount furniture store on Kenmount a few months ago on a Saturday afternoon. The apparent lone salesman on duty had minimal interest when I told him I was “furnishing an apartment”. Apparently, he thought I was a landlord and simply had no interest in helping me. It wasn’t until I finally went after him with a few questions and he realized that I was furnishing MY apartment, that he took some interest. Not sure why a landlord’s cash was less interesting than mine except that perhaps as a landlord I would have been looking for a wholesale price or something. The attitude thing is right across the board, regardless of the sector. The thought has occurred to me to try to set up a “secret shopper” group where volunteers would rate stores on customer service using a standard checklist and then send that to the store as well as perhaps publish the results online. Might shake up a lethargic retail sector.
I agree, Tim’s has good sandwiches but I like a little variety in the contents which you can’t get at Tim’s. I went into Mr. Sub on Torbay Rd a couple of weeks ago and was not impressed. The kid behind the counter was polite enough but he took a phone call from what I assumed was the owner/manager when I got there and I was left standing around while they talked business. His option would have been to say he had a customer and would call him/her back.