I have two interesting jobs. The first one is teaching a course in advertising sales at a major university. When I am not teaching I am working my part-time gig at a top supermarket to earn extra bucks to support me and my family. I would not consider myself passionate about sales, rather I would say I am “obsessed” about it. My primary mission outcome is for each of my students to benefit and use the tools I share for selling now and long after they graduate. In addition, many customers at the supermarket I consider my friends. In other words, when I see them outside the supermarket they acknowledge me on a first name basis and I gladly reciprocate. Without customers, good or great, those that don’t want to be bothered when you greet them in the aisle and those who will share with you about their family, current events, sports or life in general all matter.

So I have an assignment which asks to describe an experience when a customer service rep was not in-sync with you regarding their needs. As I review and sift through the papers the company that comes up time and again is their experience at Best Buy, the major electronics store. They give examples when looking for a new laptop or smaller electronic device that the customer service reps go into their own world making suggestions that do not benefit them (the customers), instead they benefit them and their own egos. In a nutshell, the perception I got was that the Best Buy reps talk down to their customers.

This has been going on for years, based on experiences I have with friends. I’m pretty sure they do not work on commission; maybe they should. Because if you think that you are better than your customers, the customer will eventually go elsewhere and then the company will go out of business.

On the other hand, supermarkets are places where customers feel empowered and can at times talk down to the grocery clerks and customer service reps. They are in control, not the other way around with the CSRs at Best Buy. The customer being in control works better and that is why supermarkets like Publix and Kroger will thrive while other shut down or get gobbled up. I’d rather have a customer tell me what I need to do than the other way around. Life gets in the way and a customer has to juggle and balance all the things they come at them, and I would think they do not want to feel intimated or spoken down to when they shop — with their money. All it takes is one bad experience and bad word of mouth will spread and their goes the business to Amazon, Walmart, Instacart or another competitor.

The bottom line is to always treat your customers with respect.

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