Working in retail? Try to enjoy your job

It may not be your dream job, but the better you treat your customers, the more you will make, eventually


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Ronald J. Bourque, a consultant and speaker from Windham, has had engagements throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He can be reached at 603-898-1871 or RonBourque@myfairpoint.net.

‘Twas the day before New Year’s, and all through the bank, not a customer was stirring, not even a crank …

I was a little short on cash and went to the bank machine. It was all out of money. I probably could have gotten by, but I hated to spend the New Year’s holiday without some just-in-case cash.

So I parked my car and walked into the bank. There were a half-dozen or more people working, and I was the only customer I could see. Nobody seemed like they were eager to help me.

Finally a teller nodded, and I gave her my ATM card and asked for $100. I explained the ATM wasn’t working. “Fill this out for me, please!” This was not going to be as easy as using an ATM.

I completed the paperwork, and she began the laborious process of getting my money. I think she ended up processing three different slips of paper, and it took forever. She finally produced five twenties and handed them to me.

I left feeling like I had been an unwelcome interruption to whatever they were doing. So what would it have taken to make me happy?

 • If the ATM had been working, it might have treated me better than the teller did.

 • She and her colleagues could have at least pretended they were glad to see me.

 • She could have apologized for the ATM not working and promised to alert someone to fix it, so those coming after me would be taken care of. Sadly, it didn’t seem like any concern of hers.

 • Somehow, I think a real person should be able to take better care of me and provide a more satisfying experience than a machine.

 • She could have wished me a Happy New Year with enthusiasm.

Maybe I’m being unreasonable. The service wasn’t necessarily bad, but there was nothing good about it either. Meanwhile other departments in the bank are always pestering me to give them more business, but incidents like this make me feel like a fool if I do.

 

‘Good luck!’

 

I’ve never been a bank teller. As a member of the Knights of Columbus, I volunteer to serve at Texas Hold’em at Rockingham Park several times a year. It’s one of the ways we raise money to give to charitable causes. They put me behind a counter at a computer, and I sell tickets to the various games and take the money.

I always try to greet these gamblers/customers like I’m glad to see them. I take their money with a big smile and log them into the computer. When I give them the slip, I wish them “good luck!”

None of this costs me anything. In fact, it makes it fun. By the end of my shift, I feel great and the time flies by. When we smile at people, they usually smile back. Yes, some are surly, but even they become a little more pleasant when they see a smile.

I may deal with hundreds of people, and many come back again and again. I’d much rather deal with people smiling than frowning, and to get mostly smiling people, all we have to do is smile first.

Admittedly, I’m not doing this for a living, and it’s only a three-hour shift, so I don’t have to be nice for very long. Even so, if I were dealing with the “nasty public” all day long, five or more days a week, I think it would be even more important to smile and be pleasant.

You see, a person like me, who doesn’t enjoy being miserable for three hours, doesn’t want to be miserable all week long either. It’s a no-brainer! I try to enjoy every job I have to do -- the longer the job, the greater the need to enjoy it.

I’ve never been in a prison, but I’d be willing to bet we have prisoners who are happier than some of the people behind our banking and retail counters. Once sentenced, prisoners have no choice in their environments, but they can still choose to be happy. I think it can even make prison life more palatable.

The folks in retail and banking, on the other hand, can leave any time they want. It may not be your dream job, but the better you treat your customers, the more you will make, if not immediately, then eventually.

Why not make an investment and give it your best shot?

Ronald J. Bourque, a consultant and speaker from Windham, has had engagements throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He can be reached at 603-898-1871 or RonBourque@myfairpoint.net.

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