The young woman rang up my grocery order. I had the exact number of items to fit the express line, but she still gave me a cold stare like I was a rule breaker. She threw my groceries down the conveyor, paying little attention how they landed.
In this COVID-19 environment, I rarely go to the store unless I have to. In other words, the refrigerator was looking pretty bare and we were down to the last couple turns of the last remaining roll of toilet paper in the house. And let me be clear, I have deep gratitude for the frontline workers who have been working throughout this pandemic. They face countless challenges and these faceless, nameless people have kept our country turning, moving forward.
Saying all that, I watched the loaf of bread that I had gently placed in the cart now smushed together with two heavy liters of soda and wondered what I had done to deserve “this special treatment.” I instantly thought of the Elton John song “Can you feel the love tonight” since I most certainly was not feeling the love.
I was just about ready to say something, when another worker approached the cashier with a new register. The woman would soon be off for the night. She was one customer, meaning me, away from being done for her shift.
I let the incident pass without comment. I had my fill of face masks and people and wanted to get back to the safety of my home. The experience though made me think of the best and worst customer service experiences that I’ve had in my life. It didn’t take much to come up with my own version of the Top Ten Signs that you should look for a career outside customer service:
–You growl “what the hell do you want?” when a customer comes to your line.
–You secretly wear earbuds so that you don’t have to actually talk with the customer.
–You give more focus and your time on side conversations with the coworker next to you then the customer in front of you.
–You spend more time playing Clash Royale on your smartphone than stocking product for the next customer.
–You view customers as the second coming of Attila the Hun, Napoleon, and Julius Caesar, meaning you flee in the opposite direction.
–Instead of making the customer happy, you can’t wait to kick the customer out of your store.
–You scream out “taking my break now” as soon as a customer comes to your line.
–You hound the customer asking every few minutes, “can I help you” when it’s pretty evident that the customer simply wants to look on their own.
–When a customer asks you a question, you look at them sadly and simply say, “oh, I’m sorry, not my department.”
–You handle the customer’s purchase with as much TLC as a momma bear gives a hiker’s backpack that she’s come across in the forest.
I would like to say that I’m making these up, that I’m exaggerating, but I’ve experienced them all.
Customer service is a tough job, even tougher in today’s environment, but a little bit of helpfulness goes a long way. I was reminded of this two weeks later, when I was back in the same grocery store, in the exact same line, with the exact same cashier, and she couldn’t have been more efficient and friendly.
It reminded me that everyone can have a bad day.