What Ever Happened to “Hello?”

I was wrapping up some shopping at Burlington Coat Factory the other day, and was next in line at the checkout. If you’ve been to any of these stores with the corral checkout, you may remember that the registers all have numbers, and when a checker is free, they would call you over. I was standing directly in front of Checkout #4 and she became available. She looked right at me and hit a switch on her machine that prompted a recording “Checkout #4 is available” and the light at the top of the pole started blinking. No smile, no recognition that I might be HER next customer, no “Hello, I can help you here”…..NOTHING!!!

Now, I know that many of you have experienced this. I am not sure what is worse, the scenario above, or the one where the checker looks you right in the eye and says: “I can help the next person in line.” I find it both infuriating and sad. I want to call the manager over and point out how impersonal and rude this can be, but in my experience, the managers are just as impersonal and rude.

So what has become of personal relationships in retail? This store might as well install self-checkout kiosks – at least those have a friendly robo-voice to say “hello” , “thank you for your purchase” and “good-bye”…! Then, I could create my own frustration in trying to check out, instead of someone else getting my blood boiling.

Are interpersonal skills something not covered in interviews or training? If Undercover Printer treated our print customers like this, we wouldn’t have any. If my employees ever acted this way to a client, they wouldn’t have a job! So, to my question: is friendly, personable help that hard to find, or are we now moving into such an automated society that common courtesy and interpersonal skills just don’t matter?

I’d love to hear from you.

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