At my performance evaluation back when I was working at City College of New York, The Chief Librarian in an attempt to take a swipe at me told me he was looking for someone with a Sales/Customer Service background.
Now I always thought people with sales/customer service backgrounds were supposed to be pleasant friendly, and professional. And when I worked at the counter of the City College Science Library I did my best to be pleasant, courteous, friendly and professional.
But after dealing with employees at retail and my fellow co-workers at City College of New York I’m starting to learn that Sales/Customer Service especially in retail means being rude, surly, and having the nastiest attitude.
Seriously, what are the actual qualifications for sales/Customer Service jobs?
Employers say they want nice, friendly professional people, but seem to go out and hire the most unpleasant, unprofessional rude, condescending, and obnoxious individuals. And all of these people seem to go out of their way to be to find new and exciting ways to alienate and annoy the people who do business there.
All while the clueless Managers who hired them just twiddle their thumbs.
Retail Employers also say they want their Sales/Customer Service people to leave a lasting first impression on customers. But when customers run into these types of employees it sure leaves a lasting impression on them.
One that makes them shop at a competitor after shopping there.
I have to wonder: What happens between the interview and the day these people are hired? They can’t come into the interview with that kind of obnoxious attitude. Again, I ask: what happens to these people between the interview and the day they’re hired? Do they get any customer service training? Or are these people just this nasty and obnoxious all the time?
Now I’ve worked in retail and customer service in the past. And I still do sales/Customer service when I do book promotion. And I’ve always tried to keep it professional. While I understand that there are politics and other silly little passive/aggressive games managers play, I did my best to rise above their nonsense and leave a strong first impression on customers. In fact, my customer service was so strong, customers came looking for me.
I understood my place in the bigger picture. That I represented the business. And that the customers’ first impression of me reflected on the business.
When the customer has a good experience with a business they come back and shop again. And when they have a great experience, they recommend that business to their friends.
Customer Service and Sales are about building a relationship with the customer. Earning their trust. Developing a personal connection with people that they correlate with the product.
That’s what I used to see when I shopped at Brooks Brothers. That’s what I saw at Orvis. And that’s what I tried to provide when I worked in these kinds of jobs.
Unfortunately the Brooks Brothers and Orvis shopping experience seems to be the exception and not the rule today. Most employees who work Sales/Customer Service I’ve run into and worked with seem to have this spoiled entitled attitude. They feel people are annoying them by shopping there or asking questions, or doing things like actually shopping there.
Not understanding the customer pays their salaries by shopping there.
It’s these kinds of employees that I seem to run into at most supermarkets and big box stores like Target. And After dealing with the rolled eyes, sucked teeth and sales floor arguments I just wonder if the people in HR make a concerted effort to hire the WORST people they can find?
Or are Managers really THAT Clueless? Can’t they tell this person is just not a “people” person? Or do they really believe an online questionnaire is that great at finding people with the right personality for customer service?
Or are today’s college graduates that NOT job ready? Maybe they need the STRIVE program. Because the attitude I’ve seen from some of these people working sales/customer service is WORSE than the ex-offenders, addicts in recovery, single mothers and homeless people I worked with there.
Seriously, stores like Target, Best Buy, Toys R Us, Bed, Bath and Beyond, and Barnes & Noble look like they’ve made an effort to hire the lowest of the low-hanging fruit, to be sales and customer service reps at their stores.
When I asked about applying for a job at Toys R Us the woman I was talking to had a Chest tattoo on display. A Chest tattoo. And this woman was working a front desk.
At Target I’ve been served by cashiers with neck tattoos. I’ve seen employees walking around with sagging pants. And at numerous supermarkets I’ve seen cashiers take a minute to answer their cell phones or text people.
All of this unprofessional behavior transpires on the sales floor while I’m told there are no jobs available by their online system. Sometimes I’m told I don’t meet the qualifications for the retail jobs like cashier, stock clerk or customer service rep, even though I have over 5 years of sales/customer service experience with SJS DIRECT, and writers are full-time salespeople.
But a chick with a ghetto attitude and a neck and chest tattoo who comes in 15 minutes late every day meets the qualifications for the job at most retailers. Or that group of dudes in sagging pants standing on the sales floor talking about basketball or what happened on the WWE last night, but scatter like a bunch of roaches when the lights are turned on when a customer approaches them meet the standard. These are the kinds of people managers consider quality salespeople.
Not Shawn who will try to answer the customers’ question. Not Shawn who will walk with the customer to the area on the sales floor and show them the item, and stay with them until they make a decision regarding their purchase.
When I provided this kind of service At the Food Emporium I worked at I was told I was being “too nice” and “people would take advantage of me”.
I guess the person who blows a customer off and just tells them Aisle 7 and then
walks away is what managers deem professional.
Clearly Sales and Customer Service must mean something different to employers. Because they say one thing in job descriptions but hire another. Either that or there’s something clearly WRONG with those personality questionnaires on those online applications retailers have. How do people this FUCKED UP wind up representing a business and decent people like myself are pounding the pavement looking for work?
Yeah, I know companies want a fast return on the dollar, And dysfunctional people spend money faster than regular people. But if a business keeps hiring unprofessional people as the face of their business they’re gonna wind up out of business. Because a business can’t BUILD or EXPAND with people who lack the ability to handle basic business skills such as sales or customer service.
Anyone Remember Circuit City? Comp USA? They hired a bunch of surly teens entitled twentysomethings, and hood rat chicks to work their sales floors and their unprofessionalism ran their retail business right out of business a few years ago.
Now I just want to get a retail job or any job so I can get the cash and go. Something to tide me over until I get my next regular gig or I can build up SJS DIRECT to the point where it’s profitable. But looking at the people hired for retail jobs, it’s clear to me that I don’t meet the qualifications for the job. Instead of asking for nice friendly professional people, like myself, employers seem to be scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of workers.