Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Angriest Customer

     A woman stormed into the store and came straight to my register. She was angry that no one had offered to gift wrap the expensive item she'd purchased from our store 2 weeks ago, nor had she been offered a gift receipt, as it was a gift for her husband and she wanted him to be able to return it without seeing the price. She'd gone to another one of our stores in another state and THEY had offered gift receipts and offered to gift wrap the items she purchased there. I told her we could get her a gift receipt, I just needed to figure out exactly how to do it, since our system wouldn't let us generate a gift receipt from a purchase on another day. I consulted one of my co-workers and we tried to figure out how to do this. I tried to reassure the customer, "Sorry about this, I just need to figure out how to get a gift receipt for you. It won't be a problem for you, it's just a little tricky for us."

     "It IS a problem for me, it most definitely IS a problem for me," she said.

     I also told her we'd be happy to gift wrap her item. She told me (again) that the other store had OFFERED to gift wrap, and we SHOULD have offered to gift wrap her item, don't we offer? I told her that we don't offer to gift wrap on every transaction, but if someone asks, we are very willing to gift wrap their purchases. She said gift wrapping should have been OFFERED to her at the time of purchase, since it was a high ticket item. She showed me the items that the other store had wrapped. I apologized (again), and said (again) that I'd be happy to wrap it for her. While this was going on, I was trying to get the gift receipt. I did generate one, but it was in a way that messed up our internal bookkeeping for the day, but I was trying to get the customer what she asked for as quickly as possible, trying to appease her.

     This whole time she was seething. During all of this I'd phoned the manager, letting her know about the gift receipt and asking for help with the gift receipt procedure. I paused and asked the woman to come down to the gift wrapping area so she could choose a gift wrap pattern. She selected a gift wrap pattern and I started wrapping. I asked her if she wanted the gift receipt included in the package. She snapped, "Let me see that. I want to examine the gift receipt." I handed her the gift receipt and make sure it's all right. She commented that the dates don't match from her original purchase to the gift receipt I'd generated that day. I called the manager (again) and asked about that and she assured me that it would be fine if the item was to be returned with the gift receipt. I relayed the information to the (still seething) customer.

     As I was wrapping the item, she said, "Are you wrapping it the right way? It better not be upside down."

     I paused and showed her what I was doing, explaining that I placed the item face down so that when it's unwrapped it ends up face up. "Is that how you would like it to be wrapped?," I asked?

     "I just don't want it to be wrapped wrong," she snapped.

     I continued to wrap, since she didn't ask or tell me to do it differently than I'd explained it to her. She said, "Is your manager HERE?"

     "Yes, she is," I said, "would you like to speak with her?"

     "Yes, I would."

     I called the manager who came right up and asked her how she could help. The woman said (yet again), how she should have been offered a gift receipt, how whoever helped her before should have offered to gift wrap her item, how she went to another store and they did offer those things. The manager said she wasn't sure what she could do to help at that point, since we did generate a viable gift receipt and her item was being wrapped, but she'd be happy to listen if she wanted to talk about it. The woman's face got all red. By that time I was done wrapping, I put her item in a bag and handed it to her. She grabbed the bag and walked out without saying anything more.

We realized that she was angry when she came in, was angry when she was in the store, and was angry when she left. We did our best to rectify what she felt was wrong in as polite and professional a way possible. Yet her anger was palpable. I know it wasn't directed at me (or any of us) personally. And still it was hard. Even as I write this my heart rate has speeded up a little and I feel a little stressed and this event happened two days ago.

It happens. People come in and they are angry about something, and I'm pretty sure that whatever it was she was so angry about, it wasn't the gift receipt or the gift wrapping. We try to do our best. AND, it's hard to deal with angry people.

MOST of the customers are not angry, and for this I am grateful. This particular woman was, I think, the angriest customer I've ever had. She didn't rage or yell, but she was livid and she left just as mad (if not madder) than when she came in.

Events like this make me appreciate the work that Therapist a counselor in a crisis call center, she deals with angry people ALL THE TIME. They yell and are furious and want her to fix whatever they are mad about. Over the phone. Incidents like this make me have a much greater appreciation for the work Therapist does every single day.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my, Bibliophile, some people just are angry. All The Time as far as I can tell. I've had FURIOUS people in my store who have left me literally shaking, even as I did my best to appease them. I can only hope that your angry woman returns one day and apologizes, explains who peed in her cornflakes on that particular day, and makes it somewhat better.

    And you know what? I own the store, but don't offer to giftwrap 100% of the time - but like you, always say yes if it's requested. That's way more customer service than lots of other places!