Microblog

of Dr. Steven L. Berg

Customer Service: Sears

What is the appropriate response for a Sears manager to give two customers who had been waiting for more than 15 minutes for someone to wait on them?

  • Apologize profusely
  • Offer some type of discount
  • Tell them that they had wasted their time.

The correct answer was “c.”

While running errands today, we needed to get a new battery for our neighbor’s watch.  We went to the jewelry counter and no one was there.  After waiting more than a reasonable amount of time, I approached an employee who had someone paged.  After waiting some more, I returned to the person who originally assisted me.  This time he paged a manager.

When the manager showed up, I indicated that we had been waiting for over 15 minutes.  She asked what we wanted.  When I told her that we needed a new battery for a watch her response was, “Then you’ve been wasting your time because watch repair is over there.”  It was clear that she didn’t see any problem that the staff person working the jewelry counter had now been absent for more than 20 minutes.  Because we had gone to the wrong section of the store, she made it clear that we had caused the problem.  (The fact that we had also wanted to see a piece of jewelry was irrelevant.  It would our fault that our time had been wasted.)

I am still of the old school where one treats others—especially customers—with courtesy.  When a student I have never seen wanders into my office with a question, I will usually walk him/her to the place they are looking for.  If I can’t help them, I take them to the Dean’s office for assistance or make phone calls on the student’s behalf. If they have gone to the wrong building, I certainly don’t tell them that they have been wasting their time wandering around campus.

But it seems that the old school is slowly dying away.  Just yesterday, “Bad Professor” appeared in Inside Higher Ed; an article that discussed how professors are not civil to each other.  And the problem of student incivility is becoming more and more of a problem.

It is too easy to sing the lament, “What’s the matter with kids today?” and I know that we were not perfect in every way.  However, there does seem to be a difference between some of the values with which I was raised and what I see more and more frequently when I am out in the world.   Unfortunately, the attitude exhibited by the Sears manager is becoming more and more common.  As a result, I am finding it harder to avoid stores were I experience bad customer service.

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2 thoughts on “Customer Service: Sears

  1. Mike D. on said:

    Good morning Dr. Berg,

    My name is Mike and I am a member of the Sears Social Media Support team. I saw your post today and wanted to touch base with you. I am very sorry to see that you had such a poor experience in our store. We strive to make every customer interaction both a positive and memorable one and I apologize as that does not appear to be the case in this instance. I can certainly understand your aggravation with the experience as you should never be told that “you’ve been wasting your time.” If you would allow me the opportunity, I would like to connect you with a dedicated case manager to discuss your experience as well as to ensure that your battery needs were eventually met. At your convenience, please contact our office via email at smadvisor@searshc.com so you don’t have to be upset by this any longer. In the email, please provide a contact number and we will call you directly. In addition, please include your Screen name (Dr. Steven L. Berg) in the email for reference to your issue. Again, we’re sorry for any trouble we have caused and we hope to talk to you soon.

    Thank you,

    Mike D.
    Social Media Moderator
    Sears Social Media Support

    • Per Mike D.’s request, I have contacted smadvisor@searshc.com and told them that “In my blog, I only included an abridged version of the exchange; just enough to make the teaching point I intended. However, I am willing to supply you with additional details about the treatment we received at Sears.”

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