Archive for October 6th, 2010|Daily archive page

Can I get some service here?

In The Main Beef on 06/10/2010 at 16:29

So, maybe I’ve brought this up a time or two before, but I’m gonna go on about it again.

Customer service is Denmark is… challenged. Ah, in some areas, it really kind of sucks. Which I really don’t get. I mean, these folks get paid decent wages, have regular hours within reason (it is retail, after all), and even have unions to help them fight The MAN if he tries to get too abusive somehow. This is Denmark, part of the civilized world. They don’t allow kids to become sweatshop slaves, and people can actually live off of what they make at the Danish version of Payless Shoes, or McD’s, or the local smoothie shop. You would think that, armed with that knowledge, and even in spite of it being retail work (lots of standing on one’s feet, dealing with demanding customers, potential back strain from restocking shelves, having to watch people like a hawk so they don’t wander off with the goods), the girls at the check out stands could muster up a smile and a quick ‘Find everything’ before taking my money. You would think. But, you would be wrong.

The DH and I went to the local Danish Payless the other day to try and find me some boots. First, let me give props to my man for going shoe-shopping with me. HOLLA!! I love him, I really really do. 😀 Anyway, we pop into the shop and begin the endless (for me, I have weird feet) search for the right pair of boots to keep my tootsies dry and my ankles straight. First, this is not one of those shops where you get asked if you need help. Definitely self-service. We find the boot section, and even run into a few pairs that I want to try on. The DH goes wandering off, only timing me a little, and I start trying. The first thing I notice… the girls who wander the floor seem suddenly extremely interested in the area I happen to be in. Within 5 minutes I saw no less than 5 clerks wander past, picking up shoes, pushing boxes around, doing whatever. I may be a little paranoid (I am American, after all), but that just seemed odd. However, it can be ignored, because I want boots. So, dodging the occasional nosy clerk, I finally find a few pairs that fit, and that I like. After a brief, bloody negotiation with the DH over how many I can carry out of the store (only 2 pair, but they were the best of the lot so it’s all good), we head up to the checkout. Sadly, the DH’s eagle eye kept me from adding the impulse bag and pair of Hello Kitty hjemmesko to my take, but that’s probably good for our bank account, so I can live with it.

Now, so you know, the checkout girls are NOT the same wandering watchdogs I ran into before. These are different girls. I think they handle the front area alone, because they surely didn’t seem to move much from behind the counter. I don’t know how this particular shop is run, so that may be a false assessment, but that’s how it looked to me. I wait patiently, while the checkout chick does her thing with the other customer, and idly wonder if the other girl standing at the counter will help me. She doesn’t, though she does give me a distinctly odd look now and then. I wonder if I have TP stuck to my shoe, but decide that’s not possible since I’ve been taking them off and on for the past half an hour and would have noticed it before. I turn my attention back to the only functioning checkout chick, who seems to be ready for me. Shoe boxes on the counter and a brilliant smile from me. I get… nothing. She goes through both boxes, repacking them (I guess I messed them up with my repacking after trying them on, go figure), then gives me a price. Or rather, she whispered something that the DH heard, luckily, because I didn’t catch much besides ‘mumble mumble kr’. No smile, not even a ghost of one on what should have been a ridiculously pretty face. Instead, if looks could kill, I might just have a smokin’ stump where my head should be. I felt like I had, somehow, interrupted her in the middle of a really important… something… because she’s been standing behind the counter and what else is she doing?! Instead of a beautiful young woman, tastefully made up, with an attractive head scarf and trendy clothes, she looked like some washed up old harridan screaming ‘GET OFF MY LAWN’ at the top of her lungs. I quickly punched in my code to pay for the boots, grabbed my bag, and with a ‘Tak for det’ and a confused glance back, the DH and I were off. Once out the door, we both wondered at just what had happened there… did I expect too much? Did I buy the last pair of boots that she wanted for herself? (I doubt that, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t wear my size, or like the same style I do, based on her outfit) Did I accidentally flip her the bird without realizing it?

I think, however, that the answer is simpler, and more complex, than that. Customer service here leaves something to be desired. I know it’s been falling in the States as well, what with bad wages, stress about the economy, lack of business, etc., but I have a feeling it hasn’t hit quite this level. It’s like the shops here expect us, the customers, to cater to them, not the other way around. They aren’t there to serve us, we are there to keep them in business. Now lest you, gentle readers, think shopping is hell in this little land, it isn’t. Not all shops are like that, many of them do believe that a smile goes further than a frown, and that a tiny bit of attention to a customer will ensure loyalty more than low prices or exotic goods. And I make sure I tell my 10 friends when they have need of such a shop, so that shop stays in business. Hey, be nice to me, I’ll do everything I can to keep your shop around. I like to spend money in a place that makes it nice to do so. I don’t like to spend money in a place where I feel like I’m wasting their precious time somehow. Because I don’t believe I am. Chances are, if I’m in your shop, I intend to make a purchase. Possibly many purchases. Hey, I like to shop, what can I say? All that really needs to cost the people working there is a smile, and perhaps a bit of attention if I have a question. I can be patient and wait until you’re finished with other customers. I’ll speak my best Danish, slowly, so you can understand me. All you have to do is smile, and realize that we’re in this thing together. If there are no customers, you have no shop. If you have no shop, we customers have no place to find whatever it is you offer. So we each have a vested interest in keeping the other around. I don’t think I’m alone in this, either.

Last week, the DH and I went to find Farm Mountain Coffee (site is in danish, but the coffee is to die for, so totally worth it), which has a shop in our little burg. The ladies behind the counter were welcoming, with smiles, asking if we needed help, and generally inviting. And you could see that it was effective, because the shop was busy. Folks in and out, cash register ringing regularly, even the latte lady was busy. Yes, the goods are worth it, excellent coffee, chocolates, other artisan goods, but that’s not the only thing. The people behind the counter have something to do with it as well. They get it. The chick at Deichmann Sko… didn’t.

Life goes by fast; I don’t want to spend too much time dealing with folks who don’t get it. So no more Danish Payless for me.