Friday, July 9, 2010

Wrong Aid at Rite Aid

Yesterday, I shopped at my local Rite Aid, one of the omnipresent drug-store chain's multiple stores. They sell virtually everything nowadays but without the bargains commensurate with the economies of scale they are supposed to possess. Bigger, after all, is supposed to mean cheaper.

But I’m not concerned about their inflated prices right now. It’s their overall customer service, which is sorely lacking, that bothers me most of all. And I expect very little from the businesses that I patronize. In fact, all I ask is that a physical presence be there to take my money after my completed rounds, and that I not have to wait very long to complete the transaction.

I don't get it. These corporate chains seem to place a very low premium on this fundamental aspect of customer service. They frequently have managers on the scene who don’t appear remotely concerned about people waiting on lines. My latest Rite Aid encounter involved a coupon dispute between an annoying old woman and the only cashier on duty, which ground everything to a halt. I was next on line, and there was no one yet behind me. After several minutes of futile tit-for-tat, a manager was summoned to adjudicate the coupon war of words. She appeared completely oblivious to the customers on line, which numbered six by now.

I worked in a retail environment for many years—initially in a mom-and-pop pet food and supply store that established a reputation for conscientious customer service. The business grew in leaps and bounds because it distinguished itself from the competition in putting the customer first. When our patrons wanted to give us money, job one was to take it from them as quickly and as courteously as possible. I always thought that’s why businesses were in business.

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