Be a Good Customer: Be Organized

Posted By on January 24, 2011

The woman was definitely not organized. She decided to go through the piles of clothing in her cart at the cash register and had the clerk ring each thing up and then decide if she wanted it or not.

The kicker is that there are price scanners throughout the store. An organized shopper could have checked prices on her own before getting to the cash register. Instead this woman held up one of the cash registers. The rest of us who were behind her crowded into another line and just stared at her with flashes of anger and annoyance. The woman acted oblivious to the problems she was causing, and I really wanted to tell her.

People always talk about the importance of good customer service, but what about being a good customer?

Bad customers are inconsiderate

We’ve all experienced bad customers. Heck, we may have been one ourselves a time or two. Customers behaving badly affect all of us. Cell phone usage also makes us a bit rude instead of having that human contact we need to have for an effective customer service experience.

Here are a few bad customers I’ve seen in action:

  • The person ordering four or five beverages at Starbucks – in the drive thru.
  • The people on their cell phones in line, not paying attention when they’re checking out or placing their order.

Be organized, learn good customer etiquette

So how do you be a good customer?

Behave with your cell phone: First, get off the damn phone when you need to pay attention and talk to someone else other than the person on the phone. This includes the drive thru. You know it’s a problem when businesses have to post signs asking people to get off their cell phones while they’re in line.

Be present, human: When you talk to a customer service representative (i.e. the barista, wait staff, clerk, manicurist, etc.), make eye contact and smile. Yeah, I know this sounds very elementary, but we need to remind ourselves that we are humans dealing with other human beings.

It’s easy to hide behind technology and forego human relationships, but we need to remember that the people waiting on us are just people too.

Take big orders inside: If you are ordering a large amount of food and drinks, park and go inside. Don’t go through the drive thru. You’re more likely to have a complete and accurate order if you go inside, and you’re less likely to incite road rage in your fellow customers behind you in the drive through.

Answer pricing questions before checking out: If you need a price check, use the price scanner if the store has one. If not, go to customer service with the item and ask before getting in line. If that’s not an option, make sure you ask the clerk up front to check the price for you.

Now, there are moments when we are high maintenance and need to ask lots of questions. Think of when you’re trying to figure out what kind of cell phone, TV, or appliance to buy. You may need to take up the time of a customer service rep.

Mind your manners: Always apologize up front and say, “You know I have a lot of questions, and I’m not sure what I want. Can you help me?” You can even apologize a second time by saying, “Sorry this is taking so long.” It shows the compassion you have for their time. Yes, I know it’s their job to help you, but we need to acknowledge what they do for us more often.

Manners count. Tossing in please and thank you goes a long way to fostering a healthy, short-term relationship with the customer service rep. You don’t have to take them to lunch, but showing some kindness and manners help.

If you receive bad customer service despite being a good customer, you have every right to complain to their manager or another higher up.



2 Responses to “Be a Good Customer: Be Organized”

  1. Janice Simon says:

    Hi Maria,
    Thanks for your comment! Desperation to feed your family with what money you had is NOT being a bad customer. The woman behind you in line who spoke so rudely to you was the bad customer in this instance. I love how kind the clerk was to you. Take care!

  2. Maria Enborg says:

    One time I was a way bad customer at Target. We were broke, and all I had to pay for some groceries was a lot of change I had found around the house. Our bank is in another city so there was no branch for me to get the change turned into bills.

    So I held up an entire line of customers as I counted out my change to pay at the cash register, and one lady yelled at me, saying, “Unbelievable! Can’t you go to your bank and get bills?” and I said something like “No, I can’t go to my bank, and this is all the money I have,” and she stormed off. I apologized to the cashier for holding up her line, but she was so nice and calm. She said, “It’s okay. Don’t worry about it. This money is the same as all money.” She was very kind. I was so desperate to buy what we needed, I didn’t think before hand how it might affect others.