Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Why I think we are gonna win...

and why I harp on customer service to my staff.


I bought a book today.

I have ADD. I had ADD when it was not cool to have ADD. My mind is a whirlwind of activity, always going, and sometimes things get lost in the shuffle. About 10 people, both friends here and ones I know only online, have recommended the book Getting Things Done. Of course, I have resisted this. Until last night, after dinner, when suddenly, it was time, and I was ready (ADD, what can I say). So, being a bookseller, I looked at all my online sources for used books, and found the best possible combination of price and shipping, got ready to type the credit card number, when I saw it would be Next week before I would get it. But I was ready NOW. (ADD)

I remember having seen the book at Wal-Mart in Millington. So, you guessed it, off I go to the land of the Mouth Breathers and Muscle Shirts in search of this book. It has now become a mission, nay, a quest. They, however, do not have the book. So I come home, dejected and bookless, and decide that tomorrow, I will get the book.

Fast Forward to about 10AM today.

I go the local Big Box store which shall remain nameless so they do not sue me. I notice they have 4 cash registers, 3 customers in line, and 1 cashier, with another employee lurking about behind the counter. So I dutifully get in line and wait my turn, to ask where I could find this book. I am in my own little world, until the guy in front of me is being "helped".

He wants a book a friend recommended, with a Panda on the front, called Shoots and Leaves, or something like that. The "bookseller" was clueless. As the correct title is Eats, Shoots and Leaves the "bookseller" was entering the wrong title in the database, and she was all confused (as my Maternal Grandmother would have said, "Bless her heart"). Now, this book was only on the bestseller list for about a damn year. It was talked about on NPR. Lynn Truss was on the Today Show. I could understand the customer being confused about the title, but no way in hell should any bookseller NOT know that book. So, being me, I walk up and say something like, "Excuse me. I believe the book you are looking for is titled Eats, Shoots & Leaves and is by Lynn Truss. It is probably located in the reference section, or, if not there, perhaps in the Language section". Bookseller gives me the evil eye, looks up the correct title, says that, surprise, surprise, they "should" have a copy in reference. Then, and I am not making this up, she goes into elaborate directions as to where the reference section is (go down this aisle, turn at the third aisle, look on the right in the third cabinet, alpha by author...) Even has a conference with the "lurker" behind the counter as to whether third case, or fourth. Never entered either of their minds to actually walk back with the customer, help him find the damn book, maybe interest him in the current book she has out, which is no doubt on the shelf next to it...nothing. Spent 3 or 4 minutes giving directions, at one point I thought she was going to draw him a map.

So now it is my turn to be "helped". Oh, goodie. After giving her the title and author, she says "We should have a copy". What? You should have a copy? Hell, lady, I should have six pack abs and perfect teeth, but that just ain't the way it is.

So I say, "do you in fact have a copy"?

"I think so", she says.

"Where", I say.

"If we have one, it would be in Business- Motivation", she says, hopefully. [I always liked Swifties]

"Where would that be", I ask.

I kid you not, she looked me dead in the eye and said, "In the business section".

Oh.

So I plod off, looking inquisitive in the business section, looking for the sign that says Business-Motivation. There is no such sign. There are signs for SALES, signs for ENTREPRENEURSHIP, signs for PERSONAL FINANCE. No MOTIVATION. So, dumb me, I ask a "bookseller" walking by for help. She is at the end of the aisle. I ask her, and, without moving, she leans over, points halfway down the aisle, and says "It should be over there".

Oh.

It was, and I bought it and a tall Mocha. At first glance, the book seems as if it will be helpful, and I am glad I got it (and the Mocha). But damn, if customer service that bad, how do they stay in business? I bet if you had surveyed the employees after those interactions, they would have thought they were being helpful.

I know a big box can not provide the same level of service we can at our store. I know they can not hire 25 employees and expect them to all be on top of what is out right now. I know they can not be expected to go beyond for every single customer. I know that is not the way it is. But, it is the way it should be.

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