Retail Service

“Oh, the good stuff we put right on eBay,” the clerk at the antiques shop told me in a pleasant enough but firm tone.

Uh-huh.

Then why have a retail store? A bricks and mortar storefront, with a big sign outside alerting passersby that this building contains antiques. That are for sale.

Shouldn’t the sign say, instead, “A bunch of stuff no one else wants and most have already passed-up at the yard sale.”

Or: “If you want something good, don’t bother stopping here.”

Employee training (more likely: owner training) is in short supply these days. Except at Wegmans.

There, at a grocery store, employees are trained in customer service. I suspect the training goes something like this: “Whatever the customer wants, you make sure they get it.”

On the rare occasion when I’ve had a complaint that led me to the Customer Service desk, the employees speedily responded to what I began to say.

They were so fast at satisfying my complaint, I was unable to become angry. I was quite prepared to become angry. Their genuine, efficient response offered no window of opportunity for this to occur.

In contrast, at the antiques store, the clerk was quite clearly telegraphing a very different message.

“We’re uninterested in building a relationship with you.”

And, “That we might profit by helping you build a collection makes no difference to us.”

On a recent trip to a gas station I don’t ordinarily patronize, the sign said “Full Service” at each gas pump island.

Once upon a time, of course, no modifier was necessary. Gas customers received service. All of it. Without asking.

The attendant promptly greeted me, asked how much and of which “flavor” I wanted, pumped the gas and washed my windshields. Plural.

The antiques trade papers over the past several years have filled page after page with whining, complaining and bemoaning the fact that the customer base for antiques is shrinking.

Wegmans and one gas station have figured out what customers want.

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