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To expect shop staff to be trained NOT to use a certain phrase?

(36 Posts)
phoenix Fri 04-Aug-17 15:39:19

The phrase in question is "it's not my department" angry

Many years ago I managed a small team of customer service/telesales people. The phrase "it's not my department" was banned, as you are in effect saying "I don't care".

Instead they were encouraged to say "I don't know the answer to that, let me check who will be able to help and I'll get back to you"

Twice today in Morrisons that phrase was used in answer to my questions.

Yes, perhaps it was too much to expect the fishmonger to know if they had any chicken korma "out the back" but as he was the only member of staff visible, I thought I'd risk it. blush.

In fact, what I actually said to him was "Do you know where I might find someone who can tell me if there is any more chicken korma?" which imo is NOT an unreasonable question, but he still used the INMD response.

I also pointed out to another member of staff that an item on the shelf was marked "use by 4th August (today).

The response was "INMD, but I'll tell the manager" She did however thank me for pointing it out. (Bet she thought something else though!)

Ana Fri 04-Aug-17 15:44:03

I'm surprised the last one didn't say 'Come back nearer to closing time - it's bound to have been reduced by then.' grin

Jalima1108 Fri 04-Aug-17 16:02:44

The one that annoys both DH and me is
'Oh, we don't stock that item any more - people are always asking for it!'.

HildaW Fri 04-Aug-17 16:31:49

I'm not a fan of the fashion for checkout staff to ask what I am doing that day.....yes I do get the fact that some people have little personal interaction and are no doubt happy to chat at the till but if I'm doing a big fortnightly shop usually with OH is tow (he's a good packer) I am not really in the mood for a chat as to my plans - its not as if its the hairdressers where you are rather a captive audience and happy to get chatty.
My last trip to an M&S food department was severely tainted by an extremely chatty checkout person who entered into a long conversation with the customer before the effect that it went on after the bill had been paid and the goods packed....the poor girl after me was heard to mutter....I've only got 5 minutes of my lunch break left. The M&S lady was responding to the customer' health moans and then asking her more personal all got rather embarrassing and I had to do one of my passive aggressive 'huffs'!!

SueDonim Fri 04-Aug-17 16:51:29

When I took an item to a till in a department store recently the bar code turned out to be missing. The assistant told me to go and find out the price so she could ring it up.

For once, I was quick off the mark and said that I rather thought it was her job to know the prices, not mine.

jillyco Fri 04-Aug-17 17:12:40

Another very irritating phrase is when the checkout staff at the one and only open till say, 'thank you for waiting', as if you had any choice other than to have completely wasted the time taken to visit the store in the first place.

AlieOxon Fri 04-Aug-17 17:45:26

How about 'there's no demand for it' when you have just asked for it!

There seems to be no way that requests can be recorded, added up and translated into 'people want this!' which might then be provided....

phoenix Fri 04-Aug-17 18:50:18

HildaW, May I draw your attention to a previous thread, called (I think) "Engaging with the customer"? wink

ffinnochio Fri 04-Aug-17 19:55:19

Blimey, sales assistants/checkout people are just doing a job! Should one want a bow scraping curtesy, or for them to be superb mind readers to make you feel special?

Just go with the flow.

Jalima1108 Fri 04-Aug-17 19:56:43

Most of them are wonderful!!

HildaW Fri 04-Aug-17 20:02:26

ffinnochio - I do not need to feel special at the checkout. What I am saying is that I do not expect to have an in depth personal conversation over my groceries. I merely ask for a competent and professional approach. I've done the job - its about greeting people, being polite coupled with some product knowledge, and recognising that most people wish to get on to doing something a bit more interesting or important.....e.g. mow the lawn or get back to work.

aprilgrace Fri 04-Aug-17 21:20:45

I hate it when you ask for something and the member of staff barks "Anything else" at you.

phoenix Fri 04-Aug-17 22:36:52

ffinnochio I rather think you are missing the point that I was trying to make.

I do not want a bow, curtesy or any such thing, quite happy with a smile and efficient service.

Yes, of course they are "just doing a job", to use your own words, but if you are doing a job that is customer facing, then surely it is not too much to expect them to have certain inter personal skills?

Imperfect27 Sat 05-Aug-17 06:57:55

I think the idea of 'customer service' needs to be taught. I have lost count of the times I am served at a till where the cashier doesn't even make eye-contact, talks to a colleague / friend whilst in the midst of serving and / or seems irritated if I ask a question. No friendly greeting, no small talk. In my head I expect to be made to feel of value as a customer - after all, surely the aim must be to want you to return? But the element of engagement seems very lacking at times. It is not an age thing - just a lack of inter-personal skills, some of which can come more naturally to some, but a lot can be taught as good business practice.

ffinnochio Sat 05-Aug-17 08:04:43

I've just returned from the UK, and did some shopping whilst there. I encountered an array of customer service. Brisk, chatty, bored, slow, efficient, kind, monosyllabic, smiley.

I wonder what it would be like if robots took over at the checkouts hmm

Jane10 Sat 05-Aug-17 08:31:08

In LA once I buying shoes for my son. I had a nice assistant in the shop's uniform. All went well until I asked about US shoe sizes as compared to UK ones. He then just told me that he didn't work there and swiftly disappeared behind the staff only door. He could have just said he didn't know!!

Nelliemoser Sat 05-Aug-17 08:55:12

I had to really kick ass with Ikea earlier in the year. This was my kick up the backside to them .

Please will you pass my comments here onto your Swedish head office.
I received your reply about the problems with the Ikea Lycksele sofa bed. I am not at all happy about the response.

I have looked into this for you and unfortunately the hinges are not sold separately for us to be able to replace these for you.

(Me )
This is nonsense! Someone, somewhere in the world, is producing these particular hinges for the Lycksele sofa bed. Then someone else is picking these hinges out of a bag and fitting them onto the frame, or putting them in a plastic bag for the owner to assemble.
You are buying from them, you must surely be having some contact with the other companies that supply components to you.

Ikea is a major international company. You are able to transport your products all over the world making good profits, but then you seem not to be bothered to pursue an issue about providing essential maintenance items.

If I cannot get these parts the whole bed frame is rendered completely useless. Then it would need to be dumped for recycling and that would be dreadful waste of resources . As it is the hinges in question are an extremely vulnerable part of the whole construction.

It appears to me that your company have never considered the issue of these broken hinges.
Just to reply " I have looked into this for you and unfortunately the hinges are not sold separately for us to be able to replace these for you." is not acceptable.

This sounds to like a "no can be bothered attitude." Perhaps someone should think about saying "I will try and find out more about the product and see what can be done."

There must be someone in your company who knows, or can find out, or can be set the task, of getting these hinges provided as spares.

This worked PDQ
(I am hoping the sofa bed will. )

ninathenana Sat 05-Aug-17 09:04:55

Jane grin

I use two different supermarkets on a weekly basis in both I know which cashiers to avoid. The miserable old bloke that can't crack a smile, the girl that throws the goods down the conveyor and the 2 that are far to chatty "So, what are you doing for the rest of the day ?"
I just thought I'd go run naked through the park, what do you think of that idea ? 😀

bikergran Sat 05-Aug-17 09:13:32

Can I just say as (a person who works on the checkout at a well know supermarket) When we had our induction it was drilled into us and still engage in polite conversation with the customers(we have! to be seen and heard to be doing this as we are monitored) We also have ! to ask " would you like any bags and would you like help packing) obviously if we see our customer has bags, we have no need to ask, but we must ask do they want help packing. We try to keep the conversation light and friendly, and I myself tend to let the customer chat away and not to ask tooooo many questions otherwise one can get into a deep conversation and we must try and end our conversation once the customer has paid and been given their receipt. As by that time we need to be focusing on our next customer. Who could be drumming their fingers on the belt/tutting/huffing n puffing whilst I am having a little chat to the man who has told me he couldn't find certain things as his wife used to come and she has just passed away! and has tears in his eyes, same goes for the ladies or anyone that has had a bereavement or bad news they just want to talk to someone.It could be it is the first time they have stepped out their home to do some much needed shopping.
As for the customer,many a time I have customers come through chatting on their mobiles not even making eye contact /hello/thanks and pointing at the bags (meaning give me a bag) customers throwing their bags at you and saying "pack" thankfully the latter customers are few and far between..but it has certainly been an eye opening for me! I never underestimate checkout/till operators .Of course you do get the customers who just don't want to talk and you pick up the vibes and get them through the checkout as efficient as possible.

devongirl Sat 05-Aug-17 09:17:47

bikergran I absolutely endorse what you're saying after things told me by my DD from working behind the till; she also had a couple of regular customers who would engage inlengthy (sometimes embarrassing) conversations, but was expected to be patient with these people, who were often elderly.

bikergran Sat 05-Aug-17 09:22:09


goldengirl Sat 05-Aug-17 11:36:02

Perhaps I've been lucky in supermarkets but if I smile and say hallo it seems OK from then on. However dealing with Government or council departments is another issue altogether - it RARELY seems to be a problem of their own making and RARELY do they take responsibility - and I admit to being fed up being passed from pillar to post however polite they are.

Blinko Sat 05-Aug-17 11:54:09

Ah, on the topic of other organizations and their response to issues raised by 'customers' (to use the phrase widely), my pet gripe is the BBC. On their Newswatch programme hosted by Samira Ahmed, the Beeb are never wrong. Ms Ahmed frequently grills directors and/or producers and they have always thought everything through, taken a balanced view, weighed up all the issues, and their judgement is invariably spot their own opinion. Grr!

Blinko Sat 05-Aug-17 11:54:53

Nope, the italics thing isn't working.... GN please note.

ninathenana Sat 05-Aug-17 14:10:19

It is for me Blinko the word 'never' in your post is in italics