Customer service happens everywhere

I had an interesting experience the other day at my local BJ’s (it’s like Sam’s Club and Costco). I had finished loading my items into my car, and was returning the cart to the corral, when I passed an employee gathering carts to reload the stack at the entrance. He had already gathered the carts from my nearest corral, so I figured I’d save him some work and tucked my cart onto the end of the line. My good intentions were met with a lot of headshaking and a terse, “No, line’s full.” I apologized, and started to explain that I was just trying to help him out, and he repeated the same answer in the same cold tone. I took the cart off the end of the line, put it in the corral, and headed back to my car. I didn’t even get to the car before I decided that, had that been one of my employees, I would have fired him on the spot. From my perspective as the consumer, this gentleman couldn’t have done more to make me awful. He pointed a mistake I made, and blew off my explanation. I even apologized to him, and he still chastized my actions. I walked away feeling like I had done wrong, like I had acted foolishly. No one likes making a mistake, but he only exacerbated my feelings by dismissing me again when presented with my explanation. Having moved passed the experience, the business owner in me kicked into gear. I would be utterly mortified to know that one of my employees has left a customer feeling the way I did. In this age of abundance, every consumer knows that they have a million options when it comes to just about anything. As a vendor, you simply cannot afford to give them excuses to look elsewhere. Forget being the stellar standout in your field, this is a minimum requirement simply to compete. There is only one right answer for the employee in this situation: just say “thank you.” Wait for the customer to walk out of sight, pull the cart off the end, and go back to your job. I don’t care how much work they create for you, the customer has zero clue when it comes to the intricacies of shopping cart retrieval. And justifiably so: it’s not his job. I use the term “intricacies” here in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, but the same reality applies to almost any job. The road to market failure surely begins where good (or at least neutral) consumer intentions meet employee apathy and negativity. If you can’t save the bad apple, cut it off.