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Posted by on Apr 14, 2010 in Marketing

Can I Help You?

Hello, how can I help you?” Boy, those are words I don’t hear often. I’ve been thinking a lot about customer service these days. It seems the older I get, the more  misty-eyed I get about good customer service. Why is that? I think it’s because good customer service is a dying art. I think that with the proliferation of the big chains, the focus is on bulk sales.

Recently, I went shoe-shopping. It was a Saturday. I walked into a store.  I was the only customer. The store clerk was on the phone. I walked around the store several times examining the stock. As I strolled slowly by the front counter, this is what I heard: “Well, you know Michelle told me that Sue’s not going out with Chris anymore….” I walked over to a shoe display. I picked up a high heel, placed it on the counter and stared at the clerk. “What size are you looking for ?” she asked, barely lifting her eyes from the phone. “Excuse me”,  I said. She looked up, surprised. “Yes?” “Call your friend back later“, I said.  “Call you right back, okay“, she whispered.  She hung up the phone. We stood and looked at each other. “You know,”  I said, “I’m your only customer. I want to buy a pair of shoes. Who knows. Maybe I want to buy several pairs of shoes. But I’m not getting any attention.”  The young woman looked like she was going to cry. “I’m  sorry,” she said, “but I’m really bored. There’s nothing to do here.”   And in an instant, the shoe lost its glamour. I turned and walked out the door.

The other day, I thought about three CDs I wanted to buy. Did I go to a store to make my purchase? Nope.  I went to Amazon.ca, made my choices, pushed a button, and bingo. The package arrived the next week. No need to interact with anyone.

I wonder how long it will take before retail stores filled with merchandise for shoppers to peruse go the way of the dodo.

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