There's a great way to judge a retailer, service business or, frankly, any type of customer service operation -- stop in or call at closing time and see how you are treated.
I did this Sunday at the Old Navy in The Shops of Grand Avenue. It was 5 p.m., well 4:59 to be exact, and not that I needed anything, but I wanted to look around and maybe pick up a few T-shirts.
Yet, the gate was half closed and the dude standing at the gate said, "Sorry, we're about to close." Not a huge deal. But, think of how much better he could have made the situation by just saying, "we're about to close, but please come in, take your time and shop." I would have felt special, told friends about the experience and vaulted Old Navy into my small and select list of "stores that don't suck and actually provide customer service." But, Old Navy failed me.
Last week at a Greater Milwaukee Committee meeting I saw, Keith McFarland, bestselling author of "The Breakthrough Company" speak. Based upon a five-year study of more than 7,000 companies, McFarland's insights not only provided effective strategies for companies of any size, but also addressed popular myths and ideals about achieving growth and profitability. As a business owner, I found his words encouraging and captivating.
McFarland talked about this "closing time test," and used it as an example of how a small business decision can make a customer into a raving fan. I was surprised at how soon I had the opportunity to use the closing time test. I was also, though, a bit saddened that Old Navy didn't wow me by going above and beyond. Oh well. Maybe the next place will.
I think the main issue in this closing test is the difference between a privately owned small shop and a corporate chain. I don't know what the Old Navy policies are for closing, but there is a chance that they have very strict closing times where everyone has to be out of the store by closing time. Don't jump on the local employees if they are putting their job at risk for having people in the store after hours.
On the other hand, I do agree that what was shown is not good customer service and should be dealt with, but I'm thinking in this case the letters have to be addressed to corporate. If the big wigs also see this as bad business, something will be done about it.
I'd much rather patronize a business that respects its employee's personal time than one who keeps them late. Happy employees provide better customer service.
When you make minimum wage, have on-call shifts and are treated like a slave by both customers and management, you don't care how many t-shirt sales you lose. Can you tell I worked for Old Navy?
Dad | April 28, 2008 at 9:41 a.m. (report)
The issue you have, then, is with parents not controlling their kids, not with kids at restaurants at any time on any night. Is it less annoying in off-peak hours when parents don't control their kids? Or maybe you feel the "entitlement" that spending money in a business affords you certain rights? Just like the author of this blog felt like his spending money in a business entitled him to certain rights, like entering when the store is technically still open.
Children have every right to be in restaurants at any time day or night! Disruptive children (especially when thier parents do NOTHING to correct thier behavior) do not belong in most restaurants, especially on high traffic days. This was more to my point, that people feel entitled to whatever it is that they want, despite those around them. More and more I see parents bringing thier children out to dinner, later and later, and the children do not behave. I'm not talking about the occasional scream, or cry, no I am talking about kids that throw themselves on the floor in a fit, who get up from the table and start bothering other patrons, or throw items that may or may not hit other patrons. All the while, the parents continue on thier "date" like the children aren't there.
Worse is when you mention it, the parent looks at you, or says to you mind your own business. Can I enlist the help of management in these cases? Of course. Should I have to at an expensive restaurant? NO. It all comes down to entitlement, and respecting those around you.
Dad | April 25, 2008 at 1:32 p.m. (report)
Now you've moved in a whole new direction here Paralegalit. While I agree that it's kinda lame to walk in when a store is closing (the employees have kids and families and other things to do, too!), I disagree on kids at restaurants. If I'm paying for me and for my son, he's got as much right as you to be in any restaurant. He is no less a human being and a United States citizen than you or me. Why is his age a valid reason to bar him from a dining establishment? Where does that end? What if someone doesn't like black people or women around while they eat? They could argue that it's a sign of the debilitating "entitlement" you speak of that someone thinks they can bring a woman into a restaurant! Absurd!
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