Over the years I’ve worked in quite a few different places within retail. Most days I love being around people. They give me so much food for thought. Even though I’ve had the pleasure to work with electronics (I love me some gadgets) and books (well you know how I feel about those), I have to say that working with glasses has so far been the one that I’ve enjoyed the most. I think the biggest reason for that is that my job is to actually help people that needs it. It’s not about selling a lot of things that people don’t need, It’s about helping them to actually see! I love it!
But this post was not supposed to be a gush of my love for the optical industry. It’s a plea to a few of you customers out there.
For the customer that yells at us when we ask when you’re born. For the ones who fumes and curses when they have to wait a few minutes to get help. For those who slam their fists on the counter when their product didn’t arrive on time. Those who curse and scream and threatens.
I get it! You have certain expectations, so do I. But sometimes it feels like the expectations that are set for serviceminded people in retail can be beyond ridiculous. Want to know a secret? We’re only humans, just like you.
We have our off days. We try our best to not let it show, but sometimes our best just doesn’t do the trick. Sometimes we falter in the areas that we normally succeed in. It’s life after all.
We get sick. So when you have to stand in line because there’s only one person working in the store, don’t forget that the person standing there could’ve already been working hours overtime trying to do the work usually done by two or more.
We are here to help you. Yes, that much I’m guessing you already knew. That however, does not mean that you can bully and boss us around. We genuinely want to help, and to give you the best experience possible, but we also expect to be treated like an equal. We put a lot of work and training into what we do, even though it is “just retail”.
The customer isn’t always right. I’m sorry to burst that bubble, but someone had to.
I’ve had customers screaming in my face when I tried (calmly) to tell them the rules of warranties and tax refunds. Rules that I could point out and show them, and still they yelled at me and told me I needed to learn to do my job better, just because I couldn’t give them the answer they wanted. I’ve had customers that said such cruel things to me (completely unprovoked) that I ended up crying afterwards. I’ve also had customers that felt it was okay to stare at my body instead of making eye contact while I was talking to them. I’ve gotten sexist jokes thrown my way more times than I can count.
Working in retail and with people can be overwhelming at times. And constantly being surrounded by strangers that demand your full attention can be hard.
So when you feel frustrated; Talk to us. Ask us your questions. Listen to the answers you’ll receive. Don’t bully, and don’t be rude.
Please, do not bite our heads off. Most likely, we are just trying to help.
To end this post on a more positive note; I want to mention how grateful I am to have received so many smiles, kind words, baked goods, flowers and hugs from customers over the years. Those are the moments that I choose to hold on to. I’ve learned so much about business, psychology, human behaviour, kindness, gratitude, and heard so many amazing stories from wonderful people. People I probably wouldn’t have crossed paths with if it weren’t for my years being out on the floor in the business of retail.
It’s been a very interesting journey, and one that I’m still enjoying very much!
Be nice to one another. I guess that’s the message I’m trying to get through here.
Lots of love,