Saturday, November 29, 2008

back to grace...and a brief rant

A holiday's worth of graces:
1: Jamie the Exceptional One and her stuffed animals Baby Bear, Sandy (a crab), Hiam (rhymes with Liam, see #2--a small brown bear), and a small red bear called something like "Box of many toys"-we decided it was an Indian name
2: Jamie has named the new baby. She says she wants a little brother and his name will be Hiam. We don't know where she got it, but it's pretty funny.
3: Hiam turns out to be a unisex name. Jamie says even if she has a little sister, Hiam will be the name.
4: I had a good time with my family, all of them.
5: I found some really good local pecans for a really good price. Only Southern bakers I think can truly appreciate this. I bought all I could get and shared them with my family; I'm going to buy maybe 15 or 20 pounds more. Between me, Dad, and my holiday baking plans, I can use them.

And a rant:
When I worked in retail, which I did for more than 10 years, I always worked with managers who emphasized customer service. In a couple of cases, we were targeting a limited market and had little competition, but that didn't matter-there was never any excuse for being rude, inattentive, or dismissive to a customer. I wish every person who worked with the public had to go through boot camp with the women who trained me.
I went to a major discount department store and listened to the cashier complain to her manager that it was time for her break, despite the long lines at the register. Another closed up her register and announced that it was time for her to leave. I had time to hear all this because no one spoke to me, except to tell me what my total was.
I called a grocery store, a member of a large chain and one which we don't have in my state, and asked if they had a particular project. The very nice person who answered the phone deserves a gold star. The people in the department to which she referred my call need to be retrained: the first time I was on hold for 5 minutes, and the second time for just a couple before the nice woman took my phone number and went herself to find out what I needed to know. Sadly, her company's website makes it very hard to give feedback of any sort...a shame, since I know there's an incentive program there for exceptional customer service, and I want them to know that she was really great.
I'm aggravated with people who don't see treating their customers well as a part of their jobs, who don't quite understand what customer service is. I've been there and done that, and I know that it's largely a failure of management. I also know this: there's a sales associate at the local department store who always treats me well. I make an effort to buy from her when I'm there. I go out of my way every change I get to go to Trader Joe's, partly because they have products I can't get here but largely because they've made it such a pleasant experience.
In this economy, we need to reemphasize good customer service. It's going to make a difference: when we only have so much money to spend, we have 2 choices. We can go to the store with the low prices and the lousy service, or we can go to the store with the low prices and the great service. Ultimately, how we feel about where we shop is going to make a difference, and people will begin to make their feelings known with their wallets and how they spend their money. I already do. I've too little money to waste it on a bad experience.
Okay, rant over. Another grace: I made really great New England clam chowder, and got to share it with friends (crucial, as Ben won't eat it, and I had a really HUGE can of clams, so a really big batch of soup).

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