Sometimes you can gauge a retailers commitment to customer service by driving an hour or so outside the metro hubs and do some shopping in a more remote location. I decided to try this on Saturday afternoon 21st November 2015 at the Checkers Centre in Hermanus Western Cape.
This local mall has some national retailers and seemed like a good location for my trial. First store as you walk through the mall entrance is Edgars.
At the front door you are met by a security guard, the only human noticeable as you walk through the door. This Edgars is a small store so I could quickly see what staff were available on the floor. Two terminal operators at a bank of five point of sales and one sales associate at the cosmetic department. That is it! So instead of a welcome from a friendly Edgars staff member, you are watched by a security guard dressed in black to ensure you don’t take any merchandise without paying. Shocking regard for customers, Edgars you score zero out of 10.
Next door is a Truworths Mans entrance. As I walk through the door I can see the only person in the Mens section is again a security guard dressed in black, not one sales associate available. Truworths you also score a zero.
Across the passageway and into Foschini, not a person to be seen. Half way into the store I see a sales associate in the middle of the casual department flat packing t-shirts behind an iron board. She smiles to acknowledge me but no verbal communication. Maybe she likes me! No other interaction, Foschini you score 1 out of 10.
Into @Home another TFG store and they have three staff on duty but all are behind the cash desk in the centre of the store. That’s thier work station and they are not coming out. No interaction with customers I’m only available to take your payment. Another zero score.
Lastly just before I give up on any customer service I see a small independent ladies fashion store called La Finesse. I go in and immediately I hear the words “welcome to our store” from what looks like the owner or store manager. This is quickly followed up by ” If I can assist you with anything please just ask I am here to help” wow what a difference. This store scores a 7 out of 10.
The lessons learnt are two…
- If I work for a big national retailer, I don’t really need to give any service as I’ll still get my salary at the end of the month even if the store misses sales target. The independent needs to make sales or maybe no salary at the end of the month!
- Absolutely no management presence in any retail store except for La Finesse. The stores are being run by low paid sales associates or out sourced security guards.
I understand the two largest expenses any retailer has are rentals and staff costs. Not much you can do about rentals, but staff you can cut to a minimum and only have what is needed to transact a sale and replenish from stockroom.
Unfortunately that attitude will not make me part with my cash I would rather shop in the independent.
enjoy your shopping