Think back to your last retail experience. All the details you can muster.

No really, stop reading and think about it!!

Okay, now tell me this, were there any details related to other people? Not friends that were with you, people you know who you saw while you were there, but the strangers, the employees, fellow customers. Are they positive or negative details? Did you see a girl in a mini skirt three sizes too small and think “How did she come to the conclusion that it was okay to go out in public like that..” ? Or did you see a woman with super cute kids and smile at them? Can you remember what interactions you had with the employee on your way out, what they looked like, what their name was?

If you got a taste of bad customer service I bet you do!! But is that how we should be? Is that what we should be focusing on?

I bring up this question after having a week where I was referred to as “that lady”, “worker” and “the employee” several times either to my face or as they (the customer) was walking away. It’s a bit dehumanizing, honestly. Now, if the customer is really upset with me, they remember my name. Or if I somehow thrill a customer beyond their expectations, they usually get my name before they leave. But what about all the normal customer interactions? No matter how hard you try, you can’t thrill every customer that walks through the door. Some will leave disappointed, some will leave with their need fulfilled, no more than that. But does that give them the right to treat a human being as merely your temporary servant?

I’m not saying you need to find out all about them and be their best friend, but for goodness sake, thank them by name, smile, compliment something you like about them–preferably something that has nothing to do with their uniform, and shows a bit of their personality– and keep in mind that they do indeed have a life beyond serving you. What may look like bad customer service might be a death in the family, a bad break up, or a rough home life. Give the benefit of the doubt and shine some light into what may be for them, a very dark world.


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