“That Customer.”

To begin this post, I want to say Happy Easter to all of my readers! Hope you enjoy the time you spend with your church and your family!

With that said, let’s discuss something that I dealt with yesterday at work. My store  was busy yesterday. Everyone in the town was there putting together their last minute Easter outfits and I alone did about $3,500 in sales (and I was on the lower end of the sales spectrum due to working in the Home department). The store did about $85,000 in sales, about twice as much as a normal Saturday). I tell you these figures in an attempt to convey the number of customers and the amount of volume we did. At closing last night, the store was a wreck.

We close at 9:00 PM and as always, the associates are scheduled until 9:45 to clean up the store the best we can. Normally, we leave around 9:30. After the long day we had, everyone was ready to go home, but we still had a customer in the store at 9:20 so we knew we would be late. The customer was working with a typically slower associate, and in her defense she has not been with us for a real long time. I was asked by my manager to go “close the sale” so that we could begin cleaning up that department of the store. I will admit, I had very little patience while I was walking to the department. Every store has “that customer” that will come in 10 minutes before closing and stay 20 minutes after you are closed.

As I walked up to the counter, I could tell that this situation was not a normal one. The customer was bent over the counter desperately trying to write a check, gather cash, and find her credit card. She was splitting the amount owed between these three methods. I observed her ankle being wrapped up in a large bandage and noticed that she was purchasing clothes for a small child, I assume these were for grandchildren. She asked for a coupon and mentioned that after having back and ankle surgery, every penny is important to her. Once she was done, she asked me to lead her to the door and carry her purse for her; without even the slightest hesitation I did. As we walked outside, she told me her husband was waiting for her in the car…this was not something I was expecting to hear. He waited for her outside when she was in major need of help…? Weird. As we were going down the handicap ramp, her husband got out and started walking towards us. He was cussing at her, calling her a variety of names and telling her she was slow. He went on and on, and I explained to him in a tactful manner that we were making it. He went back to the car and got in. I put the bags in the car. I helped her get in the car. I wished her a Happy Easter and shut her door. On my way back to the store, I could hear him continuing to use profanities towards her. Wow.

I say all of that to say this: we all have customers that are annoying, slow, difficult to satisfy and wait until the last minute to come in and stay 20 minutes after closing to leave. It is my responsibility as an associate to take care of these customers just as I would a customer that is “pleasant” for lack of a better word. I failed to do this the moment I got upset about her making me stay there later than normal. How selfish of me! The customer obviously had a rough home life. Her problems went beyond her physical ailments.

While I was walking back to the store from her car, I said a prayer that I would have the opportunity to help her again. I prayed that her grandchildren would appreciate the struggle, both financially, physically and emotionally, she went through to purchase their Easter clothing. I prayed that her husband would realize that his wife was doing the best she could. I prayed that my fellow associates would not judge people like her the way I did, because we are only seeing five minutes of their life when we are helping them; once they walk away from us, their real life continues and it could be shockingly different than what it may appear to be.

The next time you are at work, I challenge you to be patient with “that customer.” I challenge you to not judge people as I did.

Thanks for reading!

Brandon

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3 thoughts on ““That Customer.”

  1. jroselle says:

    Brandon:
    Great post. That is super customer service! That lady will remember how you treated her!

    Remember this. I had a very good customer that spent a lot of money in my store.She always shopped at closing time. She had “social phobia”. She was afraid of being around other people. I didn’t know this for a long time. But we always accommodated her. So you never want to pre-judge anyone no matter how inconvenient they may be.

    There are other people that shop like this because they are very indecisive and choosy and they don’t like others to see this. These customers just come with the territory.

    The way you helped your customer was precisely how it should have been done.
    The empathy you have is precisely the right mind set.

    Here’s the beauty of what you did that you may not realize. Even though you made the mistake (from which you learned a lesson), you did not take it out on the customer. YOU TREATED THEM WELL!

    KUDOS

    Have a nice day.

    • Thanks for the comment, Mr. Roselle! I appreciate you sharing your experiences, as always.I am happy that I got to experience this situation. I have passed judgement in similar situations numerous times, and I wish this experience would have come sooner, but I suppose it came at the right time. I know now to consider what is going on in the person’s life before reacting with judgements. Its the simple things in life, like putting ourselves in another person’s shoes, that we often forget to do. What a real eye-opener for me and my fellow associates. I shared this story with the majority of them…hopefully it will hit home with them as well.

      Hope you have a great day as well!

      Brandon.

  2. […] 5. “That Customer” […]

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