Author Topic: Odd Interaction At The Customer Service Desk  (Read 5267 times)

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Figgie

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Odd Interaction At The Customer Service Desk
« on: December 30, 2012, 01:06:27 PM »
This did not happen directly to either my spouse or I.  We happened to be back further in line and so had the opportunity to observe the interactions. :)

At our local grocery store, if you want to buy cigarettes, lottery tickets, newspapers and so on, you go past the check-out lanes directly to the customer service desk where there is always one and generally two or three people working.  My spouse and I were the third and fourth people in a four person line with two men ahead of us.

We joined the line just as the customer service person finished helping someone with their pictures on the other side of the customer service area.  She (customer service representative) came over and the man at the head of the line requested a specific type of cigarettes.  She turned and started to walk the few steps to get the cigarettes when the phone rang and she took several steps away from the direction she had been going to answer the phone.

And thus ensued a fairly lengthy phone conversation between the customer service rep and what sounded like a customer who thought they might have left a head of lettuce at the check-out stand.  The man who had requested the cigarettes waited pretty patiently until it became clear to him that the customer service person wasn't going to complete either his transaction or the phone call very quickly.

He then said:  "Excuse me, miss.  Would you please let me buy my cigarettes?"

The customer service person did not look very happy, but she did put the person on the phone on hold, sold the guy his cigarettes and called over another customer service person to take over the phone call. 

Then she said to the guy just ahead of us (next person in line):  "I can't believe how rude that other guy was interrupting my phone call."

The guy ahead of us responded:  "I don't think he was rude.  I think you should have put the caller on hold and dealt with the customers standing right in front of you."

This was met with dead silence from the customer service person.  That guy finished buying his lottery tickets, we then bought our paper and nothing further was said.

My etiquette questions are:
 
Was the guy trying to buy the cigarettes rude for interrupting her while she was on the phone?

Was the guy just ahead of us in line rude for telling her he thought she should have dealt with the customers in person ahead of the customer on the phone?

Sorry for the length of the post!  I'm trying to get all of the details down and probably wrote way more than I needed to! :)




Hmmmmm

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Re: Odd Interaction At The Customer Service Desk
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2012, 01:11:18 PM »
I believe the rep should have completed the transaction she started first which was the first guy buying cigarettes.

snowdragon

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Re: Odd Interaction At The Customer Service Desk
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2012, 01:11:58 PM »
No the guy buying cigarettes was not rude, the clerk was. She interrupted his transaction for a phone call, let him wait instead of taking care of him and then complained about him asking to be taken care of.  And if she is going to complain to the other customer I do not feel it was rude for him to tell her how he would feel. I *hate* it when I am being waited on and they expect me to wait for someone who calls  in.

mechtilde

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Re: Odd Interaction At The Customer Service Desk
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2012, 01:12:22 PM »
It depends what her instructions are.

Now personally, I wouldn't have answered the phone if there were customers in front of me, but if she's been told to take calls straight away then that's what she has to do. These decisions are typically made by people higher up than her and she has to follow their decisions.
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dirtyweasel

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Re: Odd Interaction At The Customer Service Desk
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2012, 01:14:17 PM »
The only rude person in this situation was the clerk.



cicero

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Re: Odd Interaction At The Customer Service Desk
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2012, 01:18:12 PM »
As PPs stated - the clerk was rude as she was already in the middle of a transaction and should have finished it. if her instructions are that phones must be answered immediately then she should have (a) excused herself to the cigarette guy, (b) called over a second clerk to take over either the phone or the guy, (c) if a second clerk was not available then answer the phone and say "Wonderful Groceries Please Hold" and finish up the transaction or get the second clerk etc.

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Figgie

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Re: Odd Interaction At The Customer Service Desk
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2012, 01:19:11 PM »
Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I worked directly with customers :) I was told to always deal with the customers in front of you and put the customers who call on hold or transfer them to someone else.  My managers reasoning was that they didn't want to lose an actual sale to a potential sale.

I don't know if that is accurate (the reasoning) or not. 

We weren't in any rush, so it wasn't bothering me to wait, but I wasn't the next person in line so I guess I didn't really get a vote. :)

Sharnita

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Re: Odd Interaction At The Customer Service Desk
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2012, 01:35:48 PM »
He was "there" before the caller was.  The call could have been put on hold and then his transaction finished.  Callers can wait in line just like everybody else.

diesel_darlin

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Re: Odd Interaction At The Customer Service Desk
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2012, 01:49:47 PM »
I've worked in retail in several different types of stores. At the very least, I would have taken the phone call, and as I was listening, I would have allowed the man to purchase his cigarettes.

sidi-ji

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Re: Odd Interaction At The Customer Service Desk
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2012, 01:54:39 PM »
The first guy was in no way rude for recalling the cashier to her primary duty--to the customer in front of her.  A quick "  Hello, you've reached customer service, I have quite a line, may I ask you to hold or leave your phone number?"  might be enough to placate a caller, while remaining focused on the task at hand.   The cs rep tripped up by letting herself be distracted, and (shudder) criticizing the customer afterward.   He was in the right, but even if he had  erred it was unkind and unnecessary to refer to the incident in any way other than a quick apology for the wait.  The second guy was also okay as she invited opinions-just not the one she got.

pixel dust

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Re: Odd Interaction At The Customer Service Desk
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2012, 02:00:35 PM »
It depends what her instructions are.

Now personally, I wouldn't have answered the phone if there were customers in front of me, but if she's been told to take calls straight away then that's what she has to do. These decisions are typically made by people higher up than her and she has to follow their decisions.

I used to work at Panera for a few years and my manager/area rep/higher up's always told us that the phone needs to be answered, even if there's a line. She was definitely rude to complain about it, but I can't blame her for answering the phone if that's what she's been taught to do. She could have put the person on hold and called for another cashier though so that neither the caller not the customers in line were ignored.

miranova

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Re: Odd Interaction At The Customer Service Desk
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2012, 02:34:29 PM »
Let's assume for a moment that her instructions are to answer every phone call on the first ring, to never put anyone on hold and to take as long as needed to finish the phone call even if she has to actually interrupt an in-person customer transaction in order to do so.  I think this is probably unlikely (at least to that extent) but let's assume for a moment that those are her actual instructions from management.

Then the proper response after she takes the phone call as instructed is to apologize to the customer in line for interrupting him, apologize for his wait, and help him with his transaction and then not say a WORD to the next customer about it.  She was looking for sympathy by complaining, and asked the wrong person for it because the entire line was waiting while she was on that call. 

It's always dangerous to say anything along the lines of "can you believe this?" to a stranger because you are risking that they actually agree with you in the first place.  It's best to say nothing other than "Thank you for waiting".

wonderfullyanonymous

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Re: Odd Interaction At The Customer Service Desk
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2012, 03:29:31 PM »
Customer service rep was rude.

She should have said to the customer, "Please excuse me for just a moment while I answer the phone."

"Thank you for calling 'our store', please hold, I will be back shortly, thank you."

When working in retail, the phone has to be answered, but the first customer must always be taken care of first.

Jaelle

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Re: Odd Interaction At The Customer Service Desk
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2012, 04:21:21 PM »
It depends what her instructions are.

Now personally, I wouldn't have answered the phone if there were customers in front of me, but if she's been told to take calls straight away then that's what she has to do. These decisions are typically made by people higher up than her and she has to follow their decisions.

I used to work at Panera for a few years and my manager/area rep/higher up's always told us that the phone needs to be answered, even if there's a line. She was definitely rude to complain about it, but I can't blame her for answering the phone if that's what she's been taught to do. She could have put the person on hold and called for another cashier though so that neither the caller not the customers in line were ignored.

This, most of it. Waaaay back in my college days, I worked at a store with this set-up. Our directions were to answer the phone immediately and we literally could not put a customer on hold. (If the owner was in the store and heard the phone ring more than once, maybe twice, she would answer itherself ... and the person perceived as ignoring the call would later get in trouble.) And the clerk may not have been able to call anyone to help. I was in that position a lot at the service counter. I was probably perceived as rude a lot, but that was the directive. :P
 
Even if this was the case, she should not have complained about it to the other customer, though. It does sound like the first guy was polite about it.
“She was already learning that if you ignore the rules people will, half the time, quietly rewrite them so that they don't apply to you.”
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Yankeegal77

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Re: Odd Interaction At The Customer Service Desk
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2012, 04:27:45 PM »
Only the rep was rude.

When I worked at Boston Market, phone was a priority. In fact, our district manager used to have his wife call us, or he would call, just to make sure it was answered by the third ring. If it wasn't, there was heck to pay. Didn't matter if there was a line out the door or if the customer at the register had an issue--we had to drop what we were doing.

Chances are, maybe it was a customer calling with a legit issue, or a secret shopper calling as part of a "test." If possible, she should have put them on hold.  Either way, she was rude for the following:

1. Not acknowledging the waiting customer with a not or a just-one-moment gesture
2. Not apologizing to the customer for the wait
3. Complaining to another customer about someone who was just there. Not a good idea.

So, I don't blame her for taking the call, as it was most likely a directive, but it definitely could have been handled better. Neither the first customer, nor the following, IMO, were rude.

A suggestion: Some stores/restaurants really do put emphasis on callers, which I personally think is ridiculous. Maybe a letter to the corporate office, CCing the store manager is on order. Not to necessarily complain about this rep, you can be vague there if you like, but to underscore that face-to-face transactions should take precedence over calls.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 04:30:13 PM by Yankeegal77 »