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Why service in stores is so poor?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
At this point, it seems harder and harder to find first rate service at most clothing retail stores. There are some places, people on the forum, who really do provide excellent service. But, they are the exception. I've more or less accepted this. I understand the factors at play: the low pay, the low prestige, the high turnover rate, how most people see this just as a temporary job, etc... And, yet, wouldn't all these factors also be true for a place like Home Depot's even though its not in the clothing retail business. A place like this would be one of the last places you'd think of getting great help with its low prices and warehouse setting. Its not some high-end boutique store. Yet, today, I needed to buy something and one of the associates explained in-depth for 20 minutes for a sale of less than five dollars. Whenever I need something, Home Depot's associates have never dissappointed me. They really seem to know what they are talking about and why I never go to ACE. I'm just trying to figure out why most clothing retail businesses, especially the national chains, couldn't duplicate the service you get at Home Depot.
post #2 of 17
Home depot people are nice as long as you can find one... I've looked for 20 minutes to find an associate there. I haven't had issues at most clothing stores that I've been to, but admittedly most are quite high end.
post #3 of 17
Its sad to say, but most large retail chains have forgone customer service in exchange for profits. Hiring cheap labor, not training properly...what does that say for how they care about their customers? Stick to the family owned chains or privately owned boutiques. They still care about their customers. Even the great Nordstroms is a shadow of its former self, in that respect.
post #4 of 17
Quote:
At this point, it seems harder and harder to find first rate service at most clothing retail stores. There are some places, people on the forum, who really do provide excellent service. But, they are the exception. I've more or less accepted this. I understand the factors at play: the low pay, the low prestige, the high turnover rate, how most people see this just as a temporary job, etc... And, yet, wouldn't all these factors also be true for a place like Home Depot's even though its not in the clothing retail business. A place like this would be one of the last places you'd think of getting great help with its low prices and warehouse setting. Its not some high-end boutique store. Yet, today, I needed to buy something and one of the associates explained in-depth for 20 minutes for a sale of less than five dollars. Whenever I need something, Home Depot's associates have never dissappointed me. They really seem to know what they are talking about and why I never go to ACE. I'm just trying to figure out why most clothing retail businesses, especially the national chains, couldn't duplicate the service you get at Home Depot.
That's why I had my idea of company = mistery client
post #5 of 17
Home Depot people are not on commission, so they can talk to you for as long as they want even if you don't buy anything. That could have something to do with it.
post #6 of 17
I once applied for a job at a Home Depot and they were very adamant about customer service and referred to it as their absolute first priority. Then, coincidentally, a part-time job I later had was managed by an ex-Home Depot manager, and he pushed customer service as the top priority as well. I think it has something to do with hiring practices. Home Depot will look for people who carry a friendly and veracious attitude, while a high end department store looks for other qualities first. They might even have a "How much of a snob are you?" test to assure that you're a really top quality worker. Only once have I ever had poor customer service - it was in a NM and I took care of it rightly afterwards by knocking the stupid woman onto the concrete after she left the store... For the most part, I find that in department stores and designer boutiques, workers tend to be very approachable and friendly. This may be a Californian phenomenon, because it's not just in San Diego either (San Francisco workers are the sweetest).
post #7 of 17
Quote:
Only once have I ever had poor customer service - it was in a NM and I took care of it rightly afterwards by knocking the stupid woman onto the concrete after she left the store...
LOL.. for those who are new, please don't be appalled, this is a forum joke. Er.. right Brian? Anyway, I have had relatively poor service in plenty of places, and I've noticed it depends a lot on how I'm dressed. I am 25, but I look younger, and I don't always dress like I have any money to spend, so I'm sure that adds to the problem. Plus, maybe retail people get to know that look in the eye, that thousand-yard stare that says "I'm not going to pay full retail for anything, ever." (Actually, I sometimes do, but I may have that look anyway).
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I think it has something to do with hiring practices. Home Depot will look for people who carry a friendly and veracious attitude, while a high end department store looks for other qualities first. They might even have a "How much of a snob are you?" test to assure that you're a really top quality worker. I find that in department stores and designer boutiques, workers tend to be very approachable and friendly. This may be a Californian phenomenon, because it's not just in San Diego either (San Francisco workers are the sweetest).
I'm not just talking about being friendly and approachable. I'm also talking about competence, about knowing something about the products you sell. Outside of the high end boutiques, how many times have you met someone who knew anything about construction or anything like that. When I was still trying to figure out what single needle stitching looked like, I would always ask if the shirt had this feature. Most of them didn't know what this meant, or would tell me something that I now know was completely wrong. And, from their badges, these people had been working here for years. We're not just talking about the seasonal help, which I can understand why they wouldn't know any better. To me, it would just seem that having an extensive knowlege of home supplies would be more difficult than having a similar knowledge of mens apparel. It just seems evident that Home Depot spends time and money training the people that work there.
post #9 of 17
I think there could be a number of factors at play here. First, it is important to establish if you have any knowledge of home building supplies? Perhaps because you have an extensive knowledge of fashion you can recognize employees in clothing stores who are sorely lacking in expertise. However, this may not be the case when it comes to places like Home Depot, where you have a certain level of dependance on their knowledge and have to assume they are correct? That is not meant as a jibe, please do not interpret as such. Second, I have always found that, for whatever reason, a lot of the people who work in home building supply stores have a lot of the necessary knowledge before taking the job. This is not something I can explain, just an observation. Hiring techniques maybe? Which leads into... Third, and most importantly, the amount of people who pay attention to the finer details of clothing these days are few. A lot of people figure "hey, it's just clothes anybody can hock that stuff... what kind of knowledge could you possibly need?" I am pretty sure when you walk into a store and start asking about stitching, collar fusing, or whatever you can pretty much guarantee one of those looks where you can hear crickets in the background and watch tumbleweed roll by. I have had conversations with retail people who had no idea what fusing on a suit was. The ones who did argued that paying more money for a non-fused suit was a complete waste as "nobody can tell the difference." And at the end of the day, I can nearly guarantee that I was probably the only person to have that conversation with them. Pride in clothing and its details, sadly, is a very rare thing.
post #10 of 17
There are differences between big chain stores, and privately owned stores (small or big). The big chain stores compete with their low prices, store-wide discount offers, generous return policies, and above all they offer financing for the clothes purchased. Thanks to their size and budget they can lower the prices at tempting levels for the buyers. At the same time, they dont' pay well the sales people, who in return, do a decent job at helping the customers, but wouldn't go the extra mile. How can a 22 year old chick help a gentleman/man buy a suit when she's still wearing tight jeans, belly button, and chewing gum?. The privately owned stores can't compete with the big dogs for prices, so they offer merchandise that is dated at not so low prizes. Occasionally, they offer clothes that you can't find at other places, but that's an exception. They pay very little to their sales people, and these are the places where you'll see some of the rudest ones. I'd better buy a RTW suit from a big chain store, because of its return policies, than from a private store with the same prices and no tailoring service. If the private store provides great tailoring services, then I would buy from them.
post #11 of 17
It's funny, but my experience with Home Depot has been pretty bad.  I can never find a person to help me.  It's actually something of a joke between my wife and I, how long it takes to find someone to help us when we go to Home Depot. In contrast, there is a locally owned hardware store called McGuckins, that has tons of helpful people everywhere. It's a terrific store and is something of a Boulder shopping landmark.
post #12 of 17
I can't really be objective, since I work for Home Depot. Recently, the company has really gotten away from the things that worked for it in the 80's and early 90's. We (as a company) are now 50% part time associates. This means that you now only have a 50% chance of finding someone who; A:Knows what they are doing B:Cares what YOU are doing C:Has recieved any kind of training at all, other than how to pack a shelf and drive a forklift (if you are lucky) The company has also been steadily cutting its benefits, lowering its yearly raises (we are now capped at 5% I believe), and giving the above mentioned part-timers first choice when it comes to scheduling and days off. That means that the full time associates that the company has invested hundreds of hours in training on, are all leaving. I'm staying because I need the job, not because I enjoy working there. It's unfortunately something you will be seeing more of when you go to Home Depot from now on. You can thank Bob Nardelli (formerly ran G.E. into the ground) for these wonderful changes. I remember when Home Depot was one of the top five employers in the nation to work for... I now also deliver pizza part time. (which is a lot more fun.)
post #13 of 17
Quote:
... I now also deliver pizza part time. (which is a lot more fun.)
So thats where you have been... Incidentally, I hate going to HD for the simple reason that its so big and unless you have personalized guided tour or know exactly what you want and where it is overwhelming. Besides...Do you really need 45 choices for a shower head? (Of course after 30 minutes of deliberation I brought the wrong one home ) JJF
post #14 of 17
If they sell the Speakman showerheads at H.D. in your market, thats what I use - its easy to take the water regulator out if you so desire (they all have them), and its fairly high quality stuff. Unless you really think you will use 12 different types of oscillating spray nonsense...
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
When everybody complains about trobule finding an associate, this is an example of HD's success. Too many people go to HD. Lowe's gets less volume for the same amount of workers, so customers are more likely to find help and they percieve this as better service. Tokyo Slim, I always wondered if Nardelli would be a good fit for HD. He seemed too corporate, and didn't have any background or experience in anything retail related. But, I do like the addition of the self check out machines. Why did you say he ran GE into the ground? He was never CEO, but ran the turbine unit and he did a really good job from what I've read. GE has one of the deepest talent pools for a corporation since Wells Fargo, and he must have done an amazing job to have been considered as one of the three candidates to replace Welch. Did HD really invest hundreds of hours of training into its staff? That's really incredible. What was the training like? I can't imagine the big clothing chains spending more than a few hours training their associates.
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