Friday night, I was in Walgreens, standing in line behind all the people buying beer and snacks for the night. It was a long line, but I wasn’t in a hurry, so I did some people watching. The clerk was a young man, probably a college student home for the summer.
The woman in front of me could have played the stereotypical old lady in any sitcom. She questioned every purchase, made sure that her coupons had gone through, and couldn’t quite remember her store card number as she was finishing up. Then she demanded to know that she had gotten all her discounts.
What I noticed was how patient the young man was with her. He answered every question about her discounts seriously. His tone was never impatient. You would have thought that she was the only person in the world until he handed her bag, and she left the store.
On my neighborhood Facebook page, there are often posts complaining about bad service at restaurants, stores, banks, etc. And don’t get me wrong; I think customer service is important.
But as I watched that young man at Walgreens, I wondered if we sometimes get it backwards. Maybe we need to be the sort of customer who deserves good customer service. Let’s treat the people at service counters the way we’d want them treated if they were our children in a summer job. Be patient. Unless you are truly on your way to conduct emergency brain surgery, is it really necessary to be impatient and angry if you have to wait for a few moments?
A few months ago, I returned some clothes to a store. The clerk, who was obviously new, was nervous and thanked me for being patient. I laughed and said that if waiting a few minutes in a nice air-conditioned store was the worst thing that happened to me that day, it was going to be a good day indeed. I was surprised when she looked sad and said that she wished everyone felt that way.
Maybe the message for this week is simply this: Just be a nice person, even when you’re a customer.