I feel like I’m being hit on lately. I haven’t been paying particular attention to my physical appearance, nor am I sending out any amorous signals that I know of. It’s just that there’s a certain component in my daily life that REALLY wants to get to know me, and really wants me to get to know them. The feeling is not mutual. Apart from my husband, I am not interested in forming a meaningful and intimate relationship…with my large chain retailer.
I can’t remember the last time I made a purchase at a Big Box Store without feeling like I wanted to take a shower after walking out. Before I launch into my petty first world complaints I want to announce my disclaimer that I forgive all cashiers for what they are made to do. It’s not their fault that they are asked to make like a dog and do inappropriate things to the leg of every customer. It is disheartening that large retail corporation employees are asked to pry and prod their way into making “a great customer service experience”, at the expense of my patience and privacy.
In a perfect world, my loyalty to a store means I return. If I don’t return, I didn’t like my experience. Simple as that! Instead, at the hardware store I get to stand at the cashier and wade through questions, prompts and propositions – just to purchase a weed whacker. I’m just trying to edge my lawn, not marry you!
Here are my retail dating guidelines. If you are capable of adhering to #1-5, we might just be able to form a lifelong relationship. Otherwise, I’m not sure I see you in my future. If you want to date me…errr, have me as a repeat customer here’s what I want:
1. Unless you see me twice a week at your store, please resist the temptation to ask me if I’m going to do, or just did, anything special over the weekend. Trader Joe’s started this nice trend a decade or more ago. It works because their employees are familiar, neighborly and the question is delivered with genuine interest, not “Oh, I need to check off #8 from my customer service interaction list”. They get it, the rest of you huge retailers don’t. Just stop snuggling up to me.
2. You keep asking me for my phone number…to check whether I’m “in your system”. I don’t think I like “being in anyone’s system”. That sounds too visceral. Back off.
3. Stop asking me to “Just take this short survey about how your experience was today after navigating to a website, inputting a 10-digit code, identifying the location (amongst 50 states) that served you, filling in the boxes who your stellar clerk was…my name’s Percy!! Don’t forget, Percy! It’s circled right here on your two-foot long receipt!” Yeah, no. Thanks.
4. This isn’t American Idol. Don’t ask me to judge you. My lunch starts to come up in the back of my throat every time I hear “It would REALLY help me out if you could give us five stars when you take this brief survey!” Golly, I just bought a ream of printer paper. It was the most amazing experience EVER!! I’m giving you all FIVE STARS for creating a receptive environment for me to walk in and purchase PAPER!! Yes!!
5. Perhaps making note of any praise or discontent online is better, though, than having to look someone in the eye and tell them they really screwed the pooch on selling me a bag of pet sawdust bedding. “Yeah, I was going to say that I felt very inconvenienced having to go down three aisles instead of one to find the aspen wood chip terrarium liner…” (Has no one seen the movie “Office Space“? “You need more flare…TPS reports in triplicate…”)
6. Can you see where my eyes are going when I hear: “Would you like to sign up for our customer rewards program? It’ll just take a second and you’ll receive some wonderful email coupons…” Great, I get to do paperwork (that’ll assuredly take longer than a second) AND receive spam in my inbox! I love those rewards cards. I’ve got 67 in my wallet right now — may I please have a 68th?
I think I’ll take a break from all these clamoring suitors and go visit my small Issaquah retailers who don’t want to get to know me in such a meaningful way.