Friday, June 22, 2007

the customer is always....

blimey, reading that last post how pooterish do I sound? Although in this case it was not entirely my fault- I was writing it at about 9.55pm and intending to put a joke in about the fact that we had just started considering charging for windows. (This is true- I've got someone in at the moment whose experience is in larger and more formal stores to cast a fresh eye over the place- I don't think we will but who knows??- probably a bad time to start now!))
I failed in my whole set joke up, tell joke scheme as I got quite a long call from a customer and it just so happens that the phone call reflected a little on other work we are doing at the shop at the moment- namely a staff questionnaire/suggestion box come survey about how we could improve thing a bit. One of the themes is customer service and on one of the sheets in the staffroom (god how frightening does this sound- the stairwell to our staffroom looks like an asylum) I've mentioned that 2 of our regular customers have found us to be a bit grumpy sometimes of late. It's actually an observation I, sort of, agree with.
But only 'sort of'' and only sometimes; in fact- very rarely.
Back to the phone call and I hope this customer doesn't mind me mentioning this-she was very nice and, I think, so was I. She asked for a book that we had in stock, then asked if it was the paperback- I said I didn't think so, she said Amazon have it. I said I'd look it up and no, sadly, we didn't have it- now, our system does do one really neat trick-from the stock card at the touch of one button we can find if any wholesalers have a title in stock, they didn't. I was now a little surprised and said I'd check Books-in-print to she if the title was available- again to be told that Amazon have it, I asked if she was sure there was an actual on hand figure, again to be told that Amazon had it listed- now trying to learn from my girlfriend that when someone does not really understand what I say I shouldn't just repeat it - I explained that Amazon have a number of titles on their screens which are not yet published , as indeed, do we. I was then told that the customer had not rung me up 'to be given a lecture on how to use Amazon', to be followed by- about a second later- oh, they haven't got it, it's not published yet. Now, I didn't bat an eye over this and took a reservation for the hardback and placed an order for different book too so was happy with the whole transaction.
But- although I am quite capable of being hectoring, lecturing short tempered and rude, I was pretty sure I had been none of these things this time and my colleague- one of the most mild mannered people I have ever met and who has put up with me when I have been hectoring, lecturing etc etc also assured me I hadn't been. I'm pretty sure that if you tell a cabbie they've gone the wrong way, a chef that they've overcooked the pastry or, heavens forbid, tell a publisher that their jackets are lousy (actually they do often listen) you'll get a reaction but on this side of the till we have to grin and bear it. It doesn't normally bother me, I love working at a till in a bookshop and occasionally people don't appreciate you, what's the big- but sometimes you do feel that you're getting judged just a little unfairly.

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