“Sorry, that’s not my department”

On Saturday, while out shopping for a few supplies, two different consumer experiences were marred by the same lazy attitude and general disdain held by some staff towards their customers.

The first happened when shopping for a new bed at a popular store. I walked into the bedding section and tried some arm-waving theatrics in an effort to chat to an employee who was surrounded by beds but was doing an Oscar-worthy impression of looking busy and simultaneously avoiding my attention.

I asked said employee loudly if they could recommend any beds only to be met with the reply, “Sorry. That’s not my department” before they hurried off. Needless to say, I left, bed-less.

Then, after stopping for a coffee break with friends at a popular cafe in Darlinghurst, we sat down at a table that was cohabited by dirty cups and plates. The cafe was busy, as you would expect from a well positioned, inner city cafe on the weekend, yet it still took a long time for a hipster waiter to saunter over to us and take our coffee order in a hurried and brisk fashion. A friend politely asked whether he would mind clearing our tables of plates, which was met with a look of shock, hurt and DISGUST, before replying that he was a barista, not a waiter, and consequently he did not touch plates or food. Instead, we picked up our plates and took them to the counter ourselves making sure the barista saw us.

In a different age it may have been acceptable to waste people’s time with equal parts of arrogance and incompetence, simply because there was no other option available for consumers.

But consumers’ attitudes have shifted. Time is money and people have options. If someone is taking the effort and giving up time on their weekend to walk into your store or cafe then you owe it to them to thank them with good customer service. Possibly even a smile. Because if you don’t the consumer will shop online or with a competitor, or will ultimately eat in the cafe next door.

Employees should be willing to help out on every product on a showroom floor at least to the best of their ability, or to acknowledge the customer and then go and get help for them.

A good experience is noticed, but a bad experience is talked about, and shared, for months.

John Winning is CEO of Winning Group: Appliances Online, BigBrownBox.com.au, Winning Appliances, and Handy Crew.


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