March 25, 2013

Cheers and Jeers: March 25, 2013

CHEERS to Ethel Barkley, a customer-service clerk at Wal-Mart in Plattsburgh. One day last week, a customer approached the checkout section near the store’s grocery section and noticed that the only lanes open specified that shoppers couldn’t have more than 20 items. He had a shopping cart full of food. It was around 8:30 a.m., so the store was not clogged with patrons yet, but a crowd was beginning to build. The shopper noticed the nearby self checkouts, which don’t limit the number of items, but was something of a novice with those and wondered how to proceed. Barkley was in the middle of training a new employee on the ins and outs of the self-checkout machines, but she invited the customer to push his cart over to a machine and said she would run his groceries through herself. He had accumulated quite a number of loose produce items, complicating his self-checkout. Her trainee interrupted her a number of times during the checkout to ask questions about another customer’s situation, to which Barkley directed her attention each time patiently, helpfully. Barkley’s customer was thus able to make short work of the checkout process in spite of little familiarity with the mechanism. She explained what she was doing as she went along so he’d be better equipped the next time. He was most grateful and commented to her that she was amiable and helpful. She said she’d been well grounded in the value of customer service after 34 years as an employee with the now-shuttered Montgomery Ward. The customer was very pleasantly surprised by the depth of her commitment to making shopping as easy and quick as possible. Her bosses should value her attitude, too, as they are equal beneficiaries of the goodwill she cemented.

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