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.