Have a Job? Thank Your Customers.

Have a Job? Thank Your Customers.

By: Shelly Kramer
July 8, 2010

Confused Grocery Shopper

This is what my friend Erika Napoletano, the infamous Chief Redhead at Redhead Writing, would call a Bitch Slap. Damn, but I wish I’d thought of that.

I’ll ask again … do you have a job? If so, it’s probably because the business you work for has customers. And when was the last time you gave a damn about those customers? Those pesky people who bug you incessantly with their neediness. Those annoying gnats that allow you to keep that job. The J.O.B. The thing that provides a living. That feeds your kids. That pays your rent.

Pull your heads out people!

Let me give you an example. Yesterday, I was at the neighborhood grocery store. I needed deli meat and I prefer the brand that this store carries. It’s also about five blocks from my house, so I shop there often. I got to the counter and there were 6 deli workers, all engaged in the business of doing something other than being even remotely interested in waiting on me. The only customer. I’m polite. So I waited. And waited. Then I waited some more. Then I realized they were playing the “I’m going to ignore her and let someone else wait on her – I’ve got stuff to do here” game. I’d recognize that game anywhere – it happens all too often.

So, panties most definitely in a wad and in a quiet rage, I huffed off to the front of the store and the customer service center. As if I have time for this crap. The young girl manning the counter asked if she could help. I replied that I wanted to speak with a manager. She said “sure thing” and poked her head into the office and spoke to ‘the guy’ and said “There’s a customer out here who wants to speak with you.” I suppose he grunted in response, but I’m not really sure.

And I waited. And waited. Then I waited some more. Have I mentioned that I’m not particularly good at waiting? The young lady realized that steam was about to come out of my ears, but she figured that cowering in a corner was safer than bothering her boss again and reminding him that I was waiting to be serviced. Oh, that sounds kind of nasty, doesn’t it. Not that kind of serviced.

Finally, I gave up. I have a business to run. Clients to keep happy, kids to feed, deli meat to buy. I went to the checkout counter to begin the process of paying for the groceries in my cart. When my friends, the checkers and baggers, asked about my shopping experience (as they are no doubt trained to do), I said that it was crap. That I’d gotten absolutely no service at the deli counter and when I went to the office to talk to the manager about it, I’d gotten no service there either. They shook their heads and said “That’s too bad. You’re in here a lot. You send a lot of money here.” No duh. And, for the record, not one of them beat feet over to the customer service office and dragged a manager out to rectify the problem. Another fail.

Speaking of money, let’s do some quick math. Some of you are smiling, I know. You know how I feel about math. But this is important. I cook. A lot. And feed a family of four. I spend, on average, $200 a week at this store. That equates to about $860 per month that I spend on groceries and other necessities. Round that off and say that my annual value to that particular store is about $10,000. Do you think that when those idiots at the deli case are ignoring me that they see a big, flashing sign with $10,000 on it – or do they just see some bothersome gal in sweats busting up their party and having the audacity to expect them to slice up a little turkey?

And that manager. What a moron. He doesn’t deserve his job, that’s for sure. Funny thing, I doubt he even knows it.

So, here’s the thing. I quit you, Cosentino’s Brookside Market. And now, I schlep an extra three miles over to the Hen House in Prairie Village and give them my $10,000. There, they welcome my business. They greet me enthusiastically, with a smile, and can’t wait to slice some turkey for me. And anything else I need they serve up graciously. That’s how you treat a customer, folks. As an aside, I’m not the only customer who feels that way about the Hen House – check out this Yelp review and you’ll see what I mean. I wonder if the folks at Cosentino’s have ever heard of Yelp. Hmmmm.

Don’t make the mistake of taking your customers for granted. Greet them every chance you get with a smile and an appreciation for the fact that they choose to spend their hard earned money with you – instead of with someone else. Small businesses who are looking for a way to differentiate themselves from the competition would be well-served to remember these simple words of advice. Treat your customers like royalty – they will reward you by coming back.

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  • Shelly Kramer

    I’m with you, Joshua. I’ve heard that story before and it is, unfortunately, so true. And the part of your comment about having an online presence and, more importantly, monitoring what’s being said about you and your brand – such a critical part of today’s business model. I’d be willing to bet that Cosentino’s isn’t paying attention and it’s too bad. And it’s sad that now I have to drive out of my neighborhood, and shop somewhere else, because they aren’t interested in taking care of me. Sigh.

    Thanks for always showing up, Joshua. Your comments are always insightful, on target, and most appreciated. You rock, my friend.

  • I'm reminded of the same story when a guy went to buy a car dressed in rags, no one even approached him. Same guy, next day in a suit walks in with a wad of cash in his hand and got more attention than he ever had. Businesses shouldn't have to constantly be reminded that good customer service = more money. This is also an instance where having a presence online is important to monitor events like these. Imagine if Costentinos had a twitter account, light up like Southwestern and get some attention!

  • SMACK! You go, girl. I knew instantly who you were talking about b/c I have had the same experience at BM. Such a shame. But so glad you blogged about it. You are phenomenal! But honestly can't believe you just didn't bust up into the mgr's office and tell him where to stick his Boar's Head Honey Maple!

  • p.s. too bad BM isn't on Twitter, but surely they will see this.


  • Definitely a bitch slap!! (and too bad they don't know it!) you should mail them this 🙂

    and… I forgot you were in KC – I was like… I know that store!! (lived there until 2 years ago!) HA

  • Wendywiseman

    What a pity! At least they HAVE (had) customers! When trying to build a business, you welcome every opportunity you have and kiss everyone's ass. And as you grow big, you can NEVER forget the people who helped you at the beginning.

    They are fools and deserve to suffer the consequences. I commend you on your actions! GOOD BITCH!

  • I shape my daily habits based on those who appreciate them. I no longer go to Starbucks. Walmart can suck it. The service at Forest Room 5 is hiddy, while the food is good. Guess where I don't go.

    Heads: out of the ass, folks. Keep watching $10k walk out the door. If you do, you have resigned your right to bitch about the economy. Go back to painting your nails. Behind the deli counter. Ew.


  • Well said and kudos for taking action. I also like to highlight two things about retail, in particular about daily errand-type stuff: Working mothers are the most stressed-out demographic, and humans respond well to stress reduction. Make things easy for us, and we will be eternally loyal. F-it up and we'll quit you. I did a post about United Airline basically taking the “gee, sorry” but no action approach recently. It's amazing how many people don't get it. That other store deserves your fabulosity much more.

  • It must be in the air. I wrote a post about customer service last night, too, although from a slightly different perspective. I feel sorry for those lazy people who don't deserve a job – sometimes. But I also share your righteous indignation. I don't know any other way we, as consumers, can exert our influence besides going to the place with the best service instead of the most convenient one.

  • Amy

    Shelly (and Shelly) – This is a very good idea – print it out and mail it to the home office along with a photo of yourself wearing a Tee shirt that says, $10,000

  • Plumtoad

    Coesentino's has a horrible corporate culture. Know why they get away with it? Because people continue to shop there! Why should they change?

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks Erin. Of course you knew. I get so frustrated every ding dong time I go there – and then I kick myself for going back. Maybe I'll go back one last time and leave a copy of this rant at the customer service desk!!

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks Shelly! <Have I mentioned that I love your name?> <hehe>. Why'd ya move and where are you now?? That's a shame, for sure!!

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks WW. I agree completely. Unfortunately, so many people do grow big and forget the people who were around in the beginning. It's a life quest of mine never to be that person!! Thanks for stopping by, girl.

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks Babe-a-licios. And thanks for letting me steal a play from your playbook. My rants can never be as good as yours but you know what they say … steal it if you can. Oh, wait, did I get that right?

    I'm like you, trying my best to spend my money and my time at places who deserve it. Anything less is just plain stoopid.

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks Jeannie. You hit the nail on the head — but no surprise there – you're a smartie. Moms are the decision-makers, pocketbook holders, family caretakers — smart retailers need to do things to help us live our lives, not put roadblocks in the way. I need to go read your United post — I'll bet it's brilliant.

    Thanks again for coming by – you know you brighten my day every time you're in it!

  • ShellyKramer

    I need to see that post, Dave — I'll go and look for it! Consumers need to collectively put their feet down and say “hell no, we're not going to take it.” It might just do service providers and retailers a world of good to get that kind of wake up call on a regular basis.

    Thanks for stopping by :))

  • ShellyKramer

    Amy — that's BRILLIANT! I need to do that, for sure!!

  • Michele Sherpy

    AAAAMEN! Customer service is key, let me rephrase that, CUSTOMER SERVICE IS KEY! If you don't appreciate your customers and the business they give you, then you don't deserve their business. Not only that, but you probably don't put forth any value in what you do – who'd want to work with you anyway. No customers = no business = you have no job. Period. I second the motion that you should treat everyone the way you would expect to be treated – always with a smile, always eagerly, and ALWAYS with the attitude that you value their business. Amen.

  • ShellyKramer

    You are 100% correct! Why have I been battling that damn deli department for the past 10 years? I'm a dummy, that's for sure. But no more!!

  • ShellyKramer

    Hi Joshua,

    Have I ever mentioned what a class act you are? Always paying attention, always contributing, always engaging. It is never unappreciated and never unnoticed. Thank you.

    I've heard that story before – and have actually seen some research on that topic and it's fascinating. I agree with you about having an online presence, too, but even more importantly, being smart enough to monitor what's being said about you and react and strategize accordingly is even more important. I'm pretty sure that Cosentino's neither participates nor monitors — to their detriment.

    Thanks again for coming by – you are always a delight.

  • ShellyKramer

    Michele! First of all, I love it that you stopped by. Secondly, I love it even more that you use CAPITAL LETTERS so that no one misses your emphasis. I do it ALL THE TIME!!! Third, you need to use more exclamation points when you write — it goes so well with the CAPS !!!!!! See what I mean????? (oh, and question marks are good, too!!)

    Seriously, you nailed it. Not that I'm surprised. Yet another reason I like ya!

    And congrats on what I think is your first blog comment. Evah. You're rocking it, woman!!

  • davevandewalle

    Sad. But in this case, taking your business elsewhere was your only choice.

    Great post.

  • Ive been a bad commenter lately, but this one I have to break the cycle with.

    As someone who has spent YEARS in customer service, this kind of stuff makes me sick. You used to have to WORK to get a customer facing position. Now you start there and stay there when you're deemed to be good at nothing else. As someone who took pride in helping people, today's customer service SUCKS…and its why I shop on the internet now. Obviously for the most part you can't do that with food, with the exception of Peapod or whatnot.

    This isn't a battle of “the customer is always right” or whatever…its common courtesy…which the world is lacking in spades right now. Every time I am able to speak with a manager or supervisor, I ask them how THEY would feel in my situation. Its a simple question that generally gets a variation on “I'd be angry/upset/pissed/etc”. I'm not looking to get anyone in trouble…I'm just letting you know, your customer service isn't at a level that you accept when YOU go somewhere.

    If its not…find out why. If you don't, you lose customers, its that simple.

  • LOL – you did in Sarah's first 30 days program! 🙂 I moved to FloriDUH for a job – that I no longer have – but getting hubby to move will be, let's say, very hard! 🙂

  • Amen to your post and to all the comments. That kind of service, although way too prevalent, never ceases to amaze. When I use to teach quality process improvement I always had to talk about the customer, both internal and external. It use to galvanize me to action whenever I received poor service; my sons were young at the time and just wanted to hide in the corner because mom was embarrassing them but when I hear them talk now about their jobs I am thrilled at their attitude regarding customer service.
    Sorry this happened to you, but I too am now banning Cosentino's Brookside Market whenever I'm in town!

  • Wendy

    I get it. And I love that you posted this because I think many of us silently stew thinking we're just too demanding or our expectations are too high. But really? Could it be too much to ask for courtesy? We have a store 2 miles from here and I drive 7 miles to shop. I actually never complained. (shame on me) But YEARS of dissatisfaction piled up. And when I mention that I schlep to Harris Teeter (love it!), virtually everyone says, I should do that, too.

    I AM a math geek and I never added up my value to the store – any store for that matter. Thanks. Now I going to update my iPhone calculator app 🙂

  • Shelly. I'm in complete agreement…I can understand a bad day–or two–but a pattern of bad service is not something in which I care to invest. I'm talking to you Elite Alarm Service of KC–you totally misrepresented the service contract and ended up costing me money to fix the hack job you did on our existing alarm system; you too, crummy dentist who totally ignored my shockingly deteriorated molars three years ago, thus making me get two implants in the past nine months (from an actual good dentist) to the tune of $7,000 out of pocket; also to you CostCo/Capital One Auto Loans, for taking six months to fix a simple clerical error only after I blogged about it for weeks; to you Wal-Mart–well, there's a lot of reasons why I have not set foot in one of your hideous stores in 12 years…okay, enough. I feel better now. Point is, if I do a poor job, my clients fire me. Not a tough concept to understand…

  • So true! if you don't get welcomed or waited upon in a timely manner, take your business else where…Tis a shame for that store..now they are famous on your blog..LOL. And not in a good way…

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks Dave!!

  • ShellyKramer


    You're never a bad commenter. Ever. I agree with you. Bad service makes me crazy. The only thing that makes me crazier is the people who settle for it as if it's expected.

    And you're right – it really is that simple!

    Thanks sweets.

  • ShellyKramer

    Cherry, my grown children have finally quit hiding in the corner when I stand up for something and have actually started saying “I turned into Shelly Kramer's daughter” … which makes me laugh.

    The sad thing is that I've been putting up with this for years and only lately decided I'd had enough. Shame on me for that!!

  • ShellyKramer

    We don't ask too much and our expectations aren't too high! I continually remind myself that if I ever deliver something that my clients don't think is good enough, they tell me. (thankfully, that rarely happens). Why is the service or product that I receive from others any different? The answer – it's not. We just forget that, for some dumb reason.

    I knew a math geek (like you) would love that. And my friend, Angela, took it further and calculated the lifetime value that they'll be missing out on. Love it!!!!

  • ShellyKramer

    Haha! Famous on my blog. And not in a good way. I love it!!

  • I got a girl fired from Claire's for appalling service once. Having two girls it would be difficult to never go in so I wrote to the manager and head office with details of the 'incident' and said that if we ever walked into that store again and she was there we'd walk right back out. I've never seen her again…

  • Stephanie

    Wow, so annoyed to hear this. I shop at Cosentinos occasionally (and their Price Chopper regularly) but will have to think twice. I have no patience for wasted time; my time is too precious. Time Warner most recently wasted my time — one bad DVR after another, too many reboots and too many shows not taped as they were programed to be, too many trips to their office to exchange boxes, too many visits from their techs to supposedly fix the service. No more, we moved on to Surewest. So far so good.

  • Christopher (@BurgessCT)

    The ultimate vote is with thy feet – nicely articulated. I'm sending this link to all of my KC relatives (and being good Catholics there are more than a few). W/O customers you are part of the quarterly unemployed stats – well done Shelly

  • ShellyKramer

    Well said, Christopher. And so often we don't vote with those feet! Appreciate you stopping by, always a pleasure. Next time, bring treats, willya?

  • ShellyKramer

    Stephanie, I've had that same thing happen with Time Warner. GTK re Surewest – will keep that in mind :)))

  • ShellyKramer

    Louise, my older girls would cringe as teens when I insisted on letting managers/business owners knew about bad service. But I have also always made sure to do the same when I get really great service – only fair, right? In any event, both girls now routinely have “Shelly Kramer moments” where they proudly stand up for themselves — which makes me feel as if I've done my job!!! Thanks for the read!

  • Sophie Lhoste

    That is exactly what I do: I let management know about poor service but even more often I praise people when it is warranted.

  • ShellyKramer

    I think that part is really, really important, Sophie. And something that many people leave out!! Gotta celebrate the good :))

  • ShellyKramer

    Oh Alex, I do so love a good rant. What a bad friend I am to only now be responding. Bad service sucks. If I ever I meet my clients' expectations, they let me know – as they should. Why oh why would anyone ever expect anything less??

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