It’s hard to forget the shopping scene in Pretty Woman right before the music cues. Hopeful Vivien and dashing Edward stand in the boutique and are greeted by Mr. Hollister. Edward goes on to say: “[…] so we’re going to need a lot more help sucking up to us, ’cause that’s what we really like.” The scene is fun to watch, but when you’ve worked retail and you happen upon a customer with that same attitude, fun is the last word to describe it.
Different retailers expect their employees to provide varying levels of customer service. At Wal-Mart, for example, you will be greeted once at the most. The cashier will tell you your total, shove a receipt at you, and that’s it for customer/employee interaction. Places like Publix are on the opposite end of the spectrum. I leave Publix feeling like a better version of myself.
Service industries are a little different. Having run my own computer repair shop, I was there to provide the service of fixing busted machines, not kissing customer ass. I tried not to be rude, but I never bent over backwards to make anybody happy. My motto was a mix of “Fuck you, pay me” and “Get your shit and get out.” I’d admit my mistakes, but I also wouldn’t take anybody’s crap if I felt they were in the wrong.
This brings us to the topic of how much ass kissing is enough to satisfy the average customer. When mail arrives in-tact, zero damage, is it fair to call and complain because you preferred for it to be placed at your doorstep? In this situation, the mail carrier was called not only lazy by members of our community, but accused of having a poor work ethic. Here it is December 10th, busiest time of the year for deliveries, and people have their panties in a twist because their mail was not placed ever-so-gently on a bed of roses.
Unless the ass is thoroughly kissed, it’s become reasonable to complain, take to Facebook, and demand for said employee to be terminated. No one considers the other side of scenario—what caused the disagreement, what happened before the individual started complaining (or recording). Whatever the person said complaining (or recording) is taken as the gospel.
I want to use the poor example of the death of Keith Lamont Scott. Scott’s wife filmed her POV and her statements of Scott’s TBI, that he would not hurt officers, and didn’t have a gun. His daughter, who did not witness the scene, stated that her father was reading a book and was only shot because he was black. The investigation found that Scott exited the vehicle with a weapon and did not comply with officers’ commands to drop the gun.
If Scott’s situation was reduced to a retail incident, no further questions would be needed outside of his wife’s video. The responding officers would be immediately terminated and an apology issued to the Scott family.
No one likes bad publicity with today’s social media mob mentality, but I would like to issue the challenge to all managers, supervisors, and retailers out there to listen to your employees. Acknowledge a customer’s concerns, but recognize that the customer does make mistakes, does bend the truth occasionally, and is not always right. There will always be another ass to kiss if you take a pass on this one.