"You need to greet everyone with a smile and make sure every single person sees that smile. They are not considered customers anymore, they are considered guests."
"Make sure our guests know that they are getting the utmost care in the world and make their experience there count!"
"Take your time with our guests, it's important that they don't feel rushed. They are only there for a short period of time, don't make it any harder on them."
If you've ever worked retail, you definitely heard these words when you initially started your training. Now, all of this seems fine and dandy. In a perfect world, these are the bare minimum requirements when it comes to working in customer service. Make eye contact, smile, greet them with more than just a "hello," make sure they have what they need, smile. "Have a great day!" Of course, this is going to be easy right? No one is going to approach you with a terrible attitude when you act like that.
I'm here to give you the real requirements that you need for customer service. Working retail is more survival of the fittest than it is "kill them with kindness."
1. Racism, Prejudice, Sexual Harassment, and Sexism exist! (Read later on! This is going to be big.)
2. Be prepared to be treated worse than dirt: Some people look at those who work retail as maids and as "less than" human beings. Meaning, they will treat you any way you want because you are getting paid to sit there and deal with their attitudes and if you don't like it then you can always quit. There are customers who will treat you like you just called them ugly at the door. For some reason, some people seem to forget that we are people too! We have feelings and emotions as well and just because we are on the other side of the counter doesn't mean they can talk to us any kind of way they want. Trust me. One tiny issue and then it's "where is your manager?" Don't even get me started when you actually become the manager. Now, this doesn't mean come out your mouth and disrespect them, you need to have patience and try to get them out there as quickly as possible.
3. Your managers might suck and everything will be your fault: Let's be honest, managers can be just as terrible as every other associate there. They're just getting paid to act that way. They have their job but they are also tasked with knowing that they have to manage you to do your job as well. And of course, everything will most likely fall on you. The more driven and ambitious you are, the more they will push you to work harder. And when you can't get it right, everything falls apart and they will blame you. Of course, not all managers are like this. But just know, there is a high possibility for this.
4. All of your actions will come back to haunt you: Whether it's good or bad, every little thing you do in your store gets noticed by someone. If you are a natural hard worker, everyone will see this and this will have a positive and negative feedback for you. Your managers will give you more responsibility and they will start to trust you with holding down the fort while they are around. Happy manager Happy employee. However, here comes your associates who hate that you aren't as laid back as they are. They are grateful that you're working harder, but that takes away their shine and makes them look lazy in the eye of managers. Customers will notice that you made fresh coffee for them and they will always greet you with a smile every time they come in the store. You can get into a disagreement with customers and they will make sure you remember that disagreement for the rest of your life!!
BACK TO MY NUMBER ONE REASON: Racism exists. No matter what anyone says, you experience so much of it working retail. Black, White, Hispanic, Indian, racist people do not care. They make sure that you know that they are racist and will say anything to get under your skin. WOMEN NEED TO TAKE SPECIAL CARE OF THEMSELVES WHEN WORKING RETAIL! It is guaranteed that you will get hit on while working retail. And I don't mean, "You look beautiful tonight." I mean the vigorous, "When do you clock out so I can give you a ride home?" "Give me your number. No? You ugly anyway." They say the most disrespectful things to women in hopes that, for some odd reason, we will fall for it and just run in their arms. There are people who want to touch you, grab you and just feel on you. And they believe that you can't say anything to them because you're on the clock. They are wrong!
As an African American Assistant Store Manager of a 7-Eleven, I know the in and outs of retail. Before I worked at 7-Eleven I was working as a cashier at Walmart. And none of this is easy. I can't tell you how many times people have tried to get into physical altercations with me, how many times I've called the cops, how many times I've had to ask the cops to take me home cause someone threatened to follow me to my bus stop and how much racism I deal with on a basis. I've had customers tell me, "No. It's a 7-Eleven. They wouldn't allow a woman to be a manager here." "They're really allowing your kind to handle money?" She says as she gestures to her hand signaling me my skin tone compared to her own. I've had people completely disregard the answer I gave them just to say: "Is there a MAN I can talk to about this?"
Trust me, retail is not for the faint of heart. If you are going into this world thinking, "I'll just work at Walmart." It's not all fun and games. There are real-life issues when you decide to work in customer service. You just need three things to survive:
2. A backbone
3. Thick skin