Breaking My Retail Heart
No, this is not a mushy Valentine’s Day rant. Although, if one is ranting, how mushy can it be? This is a retail-cry-out to remember the goal of retail: Service your consumer! Several rants ago, I lamented my experience at a local mega coffee shop that ran out of coffee to serve to the customers. This was not any kind of coupon/promotional/first-come-first-serve special sale day. It was a regular Tuesday morning at 6:45 AM. Normal peoples’ coffee time. Other normal people were there with me wondering why we were in a coffee shop with no coffee.
That was not an isolated experience. I have since visited several different coffee specialty shops to discover just because coffee is their selling point, there is no guarantee that is what is available for purchase. I now make my coffee at home and serve my own take out on the road. So far, I am 100% at excellent customer service from my self-serve coffee bar. For the record, I like just coffee, brewed with a little love and a splash of milk. I have yet to request ‘room for cream’ where baristas like to only fill your cup halfway. A rant for another cup of coffee.
Not to isolate the world of coffee retail, others are now on my list. The last time I purchased a retail pizza was easily two or three carb years ago. On a recent whim, my running buddy and I decided to pick up a pizza on the way home from a work event and enjoy the last college football game of the season: i.e. The Championship Game. Granted, that was most likely a prime pizza time, but here is a clue, pizza industry: folks will be buying a lot of pizza on that night. My buddy noted you can pull into a ‘pizza pizza’ place and for $5.00 pick up a hot and ready pizza. You can see where this is going . . . . First, the gentleman in front of us was in the midst of his rant that logically noted: “How can a pizza place be out of pepperoni?!” Should have been a clue to turn around and leave. Second, the unhelpful ‘pizza partner’ was none too happy to provide customer service: “Dude, we are just out. That’s how it is.”
Behind us stormed in a customer who not only received the wrong pizza, but the pie had not been sliced, so he had a mega circle of cheese not servable to his minivan crowd. Pizza partner offers him a slicer to do it himself. I thought that might be a mistake, but we noted it had no sharp edges, so all he could really do was roll an attempted stab at service. Finally, my partner, who was famished and in a prove-a-point mood, decided to engage the non-compliant pizza partner and order a customized pie. She noted it would take 20 minutes and he noted he had nothing but time. Not fun time but time. So we waited for our customize pie with no pepperoni.
From the "you cannot make this stuff up" file, comes my visit to a small coastal town post office (a month before Hurricane Harvey blew it away) to purchase one stamp. Tape to the glass door in less than impressive penmanship was a sign that stated: “We are out of stamps. Should have some in on Tuesday.” This was Thursday. How does the United States Postal Service run out of stamps?! Believe or not, more frequently than you might think. Just this past December, I visited my neighborhood post office for my annual purchase of holiday stamps. “We are out,” said the cheerful post-like man. I just stood there with my package unable to process how this happens. Your job is to mail things. You are struggling to stay in business. I am here to help you, and you HAVE NO STAMPS?
We proceeded to mail my package that actually cost more than the items in the package. At the end of the transaction, he handed me a receipt, circled the bottom, and asked me to take a survey about how they are doing. I looked him directly in the eye and just laughed. If they do not understand the basic need of supply and demand, they will not do any better because I slam them on a survey.
I have visit restaurants who advertise a special but on my order have none left. Many times, their point is it was ‘special’ with limited servings. Fair enough. I have seen advertisements for “limited number available’ or ‘limited time offer.’ These are fair warnings your request might not be obtainable, but for the regular consumer, certain items should just be unquestioned: Liquor in liquor stores; nail polish in a manicure boutique; fruit at the grocery store; diamonds in a jewelry shop; AND coffee in a coffee shop; pepperoni at the pizza place and stamps at the post office. As Elton John says, “Don’t go breaking my heart". I guess true love and retail love have some mending to accomplish.