General Question

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Why are shops so bad with service?

Asked by FireMadeFlesh (16548points) June 11th, 2009

I have had a number of experiences recently with poor service at shops. Even when I’m buying relatively expensive products, staff no longer approach me to ask if I need assistance. Is this a general trend, or are shop assistants scared of approaching a relatively tall athletic (read lanky) young guy? I’m at a loss.

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25 Answers

MrItty's avatar

I prefer it that way. I don’t want any salesperson bothering me while I’m shopping. If I want assistance, I’ll go to the customer service desk (or equivalent)

calvinette's avatar

Based on my history of retail employment, I can tell you that we were always encouraged to greet people with a smile and and offer of help. It took a lot more encouraging to get the younger employees to do this, which I hate to say because I dislike it when I hear people constantly bag on the young.

Retail workers might have a number of reasons for why they do not approach a customer.
1. They are rushing out for their much needed and very brief break, because their break begins the second they log off the register or clock out, not the moment they hit the front door;
2. They might look like they are not helping, but when you see them they may actually be rushing around trying to find something for another customer (this happened to me constantly);
3. They may be a little bit gun shy from being treated shabbily all day long by horrible bosses and abusive customers (I’m not talking about you in particular @FireMadeFlesh.)
4. They have gotten used to customers snapping at them “I’m fine!” or “Just looking!” So they give up.

This has just been my experience and mid-sized corporate and small family retail establishments. Things may be different at the big box stores, but I don’t know.

MrItty's avatar

@calvinette “4. They have gotten used to customers snapping at them “I’m fine!” or “Just looking!” So they give up.”

As well they should. It’s so phenomenally annoying to be disturbed by a salesperson while I’m browsing. Glad to know “snapping” at them does indeed serve to discourage this behavior.

calvinette's avatar

Phenomenally annoying? Really? How about just a “Hi there, let us know if you need anything,” just to show you’re not being ignored, or would that only be slightly less phenomenal?

basp's avatar

I reallydislike the over zealous salesperson who won’t leave me alone while I’m shopping. At the same time, when I am ready to have my purchase rung up, I expect them to be attentive to me and not make me wait while they are on cell phone talking to a friend or some such thing.

MrItty's avatar

@calvinette “let us know if you need anything” should be assumed. If a company isn’t willing to let me ask them when I need something, I’m not shopping there. I want to be ignored until I’m ready to ask a question or make a purchase.

CMaz's avatar

bad with service = too many shops
There was a time when there was one grocery store, one clothing store and so on.
If you wanted your repeat customers to like you and your product. You had to give good service and provide a quality product.
These days, people bounce from place to place. (a burger king on every corner) . No loyalty any more. You show up you want. You do not want to sift through all the possible choices so you will buy or eat what is put in front of you. If you do not like it. Go down the road.
I find it a bad way of doing business, but it it what it is.

MrItty's avatar

@ChazMaz I’m not following your logic at all. If anything, the more available choices should mean better customer service, not worse. If there’s only one grocery store, I don’t have a choice but to shop there, so why should they care about customer service. I’m going to be back no matter what.

With multiple options, they actually do need to attract repeat business, with good customer service. The one-shop-only monopoly doesn’t need to do anything to attract repeat business. They’re given it automatically.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Many people look down on “retail” work as schlep work so if they take a job there, they something has done them wrong and express their scorn by doing as little positive and productive as possible.

gooch's avatar

Service personel suck now. They have lost the concept of the customer bring right also. I miss the days of service with a smile. These days it seem as if you are bothering them to make them do their job.

CMaz's avatar

I see where you are coming from. But, We live in a very large disposable society. Business to an extent is hit and run. Law of averages. Knock on 100 doors the odds are that within that 100 doors will be provided a sale. If each door you knock on is 20 miles apart. You will do what ever you need to, to sell that item at that location. “quality and reliability”
To an extent, with more choice you think a business (and they do) want to keep you from going across the street. But they know you will any way, So some say, “I will rely on the odds that biased on traffic knowing a percentage will buy from my store no matter what.
With that in place, they feel less of a need to see the importance to have “true” quality customer service. Focusing more on quantity of product to skew the odds in their favor. More stuff more chance of a sale.
As far as one store no choice.
You have to understand with that example. People in a small community had a sense of self pride for their community and themselves. Family atmosphere and the attention it recived.
Also, they did not want to be burned out of town. Many snake oil sales men were hung on their horses. Even today with the hit and run philosophy, you sell enough crap, as quickly as possible. With sooo many people the averages dictate you will make your profit before you are found out. Giving you time to get out of town or business with some cash in your pocket.

SirBailey's avatar

In the electronics stores, the sales people avoid eye contact in fear that you might ask them a QUESTION!!!

Aethelwine's avatar

They are never around when you need them and always around when you don’t. You can’t win.

What annoys me even more is having to repeatedly tell the cashier that I do not want a credit card to save 10%!

SirBailey's avatar

Before Comp USA went out of business, when you went into my local store, a salesman would see you and ask if they could help you. If you said, I have questions about (ex.) computers, they would point at another salesman talking to other customers and say “go to him when he’s free”.

I would ask them “How does that help me?”

Supacase's avatar

I prefer to be left alone to shop. A simple, “Can I help you with anything?” or “Are you finding everything ok?” doesnt’ bother me. As long as it is only asked one time. I reply kindly with a “No, thank you. I’m fine.” and then I want to be left alone. Don’t hound me. I don’t shop under pressure – I leave.

Furniture stores are the worst! They actually follow you around the store. I will come find you – yes, YOU – if I need something. Give me your card and be gone.

YARNLADY's avatar

I think the salespeople are showing their resentment at only getting a part-time, minimum wage job. When I shop the only time I want to see anyone is when I’m ready to buy the item I chose.

If I have any questions, I can take them to the Customer Service Desk.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Thank you all. This question was sparked by my experience yesterday when I went to buy an external hard drive. I was looking at the shelf for a good 20mins trying to figure out which ones had power supplies and which ones didn’t. There were three staff members in the same section as me, little more than 15 metres away, who were leaning on the benches chatting. I accept the point some of you have made that you don’t want to be disturbed, but after 20 minutes I would think it was obvious that I wanted help. I no longer use the service desk in that shop any more, because they know nothing about electronics and just call the person responsible for that section, who then says “I’ll be right with you”, and vanishes for much too long before coming back out to serve.

My parents also asked me to look at home theatre systems a few months back to choose one to buy. Even when I looked at the most expensive items in the shop, I did not get any service until I cornered a salesman and asked them to tell me about them.

So maybe some of you don’t like service, but especially with this type of product, you cannot haggle without service, and cannot make a completely informed decision on which product is best for you. I think some shops need to offer service, and others don’t. Ironically when I was younger, and probably looked like I was going to steal something knowing what people think of “kids these days”, I got service all the time.

MrItty's avatar

So there were three people standing right near you, you didn’t know what you wanted, and rather than walk a few steps over to say “Excuse me, can I get some help?” you chose to assume they were being rude and stood there confused?

YARNLADY's avatar

When Hubby wants a new technical device, he does all the research online first, and walks into the shop already knowing what he wants and what he is going to pay for it. It saves a lot of time and trouble.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@MrItty Last time this happened there was one person staring into space rather than working, and when I did walk across to ask for assistance, he disappeared to serve another customer before I could ask him. He was one of these three, and the other two worked in the music section (shelf stacking, not customer service) and wouldn’t have had a clue anyway.

MrItty's avatar

And in your opinion they would have been either unable or unwilling to find someone who would know the answer?

I’m just saying, you seem to be acting rather foolishly for someone who wanted service. You seem to be acting like someone who wanted to complain about lack of service instead.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@MrItty I can see why you think that, but why would I want to complain? I want an appropriate product, and that is all. Why are you so damning of a bit of proactive sales? When I go to the shops, I get in and out as quickly as I can, because I hate shopping centres not sure why. I go to this particular store regularly, and when I do ask for service they take an era to find the right person, who always looks ready to scamper off at the slightest hint that I’m done. One of them has given me false information when I ask anyway. I would go and ask for service in most other stores, but for this one I don’t bother any more because I know it won’t get me anywhere.

MrItty's avatar

but….. you didn’t get in and out as quickly as you could. You stood there, for 20 minutes, just hoping someone would say to you “Can I help you sir” instead of walking over to someone and asking for help. That’s what I’m not understanding. What’s wrong with a little proactive shopping?

I have no idea why you would want to complain. But that’s the only thing that makes sense given your story.

You go to this store regularly, even though you’ve stated a couple times now that the service (in your opinion) is horrible, that they take forever to assist you, that they don’t offer the kind of proactive assistance you expect…. so why do you go there regularly? I continue to not understand.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@MrItty I didn’t stand there for 20 minutes with my fingers crossed hoping for service, and I wasn’t hinting at it. I spent that time reading the information on each package to see if they had the features I wanted.

I go to that store regularly because they sell a lot of obscure music that I struggle to find elsewhere, and I still like to compare prices there with elsewhere on the big ticket items.

SirBailey's avatar

@YARNLADY, that’s what I do, also. That’s what you HAVE to do. And it saves you time and trouble. Before the net, you had to go from store to store, physically, to compare.

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