Tuesday, May 28, 2013

ARE YOU BEING SERVED?

I recently attended one of Australia's major department stores albeit a suburban version and it was around 10:45am in the morning. Having made my choice I proceeded to the departmental counter at which I had always made payment. After a short while I started to look around for an assistant to gain their attention that I had been waiting for sometime. To be frank I could not see anyone whom remotely looked as though they belonged in any direction. I was becoming irritated and for a fleeting moment considered making a rapid exit from the nearby doorway out of sheer frustration. My moral sensibility made me stay and after a number of minutes a young lady made her way to the counter at which I was standing. Rather brusquely I was informed that this was no longer a counter (not that there was any visible evidence that this was the case) and that I would have to follow her to a counter "way over there" not that I had seen anyone at that counter during my previous detailed surveillance of the floor. The young lady was indeed very pleasant on our arrival and my purchase was finalised quite quickly and efficiently. I asked her how come there were so few on the floor to offer assistance. She advised that at this hour her responsibility for service took in about one third of the floor and that in about fifteen minutes someone else would be joining her. I did write to the store and did receive a quick response which I appreciated. However, the question has continued to irritate me. Major retail outlets bemoan the advent of the online competitor as the reason they are struggling. There are certain items that lend themselves to online purchase, and there those who research their product very well before making an online purchase. My point there is a place for the online store and many are becoming trusted suppliers of goods. But, in my opinion there is very much the place for the full service retail store, a place that I can go and expect quality service, quality product without question, being served by someone that is knowledgable,pleasant and eager to satisfy the need I am seeking to fulfil. I appreciate a salesperson whom in the process attempts to "up sell" me provided they can convince me of the additional benefit I may gain. Most importantly a can leave the store in the knowledge that I have bought the quality I seek and that in the unfortunate circumstance of being unhappy after the event I am able to easily return to my point of sale and again be assisted with a proper resolution. If a departmental retailer provided this to the point of the experience being one of exceptional service I shall happily return and remain confident that I will continue to receive the level of service I expect. The moral of this is if you are in the business of selling be sure that your staff are well trained in product knowledge, sales skills and the ability to exude some kind of pleasant personality, which includes a genuine desire to satisfy the purchase i have need to make. I fear that those skills are dead and that owners of full service sales outlets are determined to create the self fulfilling prophecy of being damaged by online stores. This can only mean less jobs and less disposable income which will only spell economic disaster.