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Customer service: Does my bum look big in this?

Maree Hamilton
14 November 2011 3 minute readShare

Networking expert Maree Hamilton looks at the impact generation y's customer service (or lack there of) is having on the retail sector and asks what can be done about it?

Does my bum look big in this?

This is the age old question that women have been asking their husbands or partners since the dawn of time. They have also relied on retail staff to answer the question for them (although the answer may not always be an honest one). Sales assistants may soon not be able to answer this question. Why? Because they are not really assistants anymore. Actually they are more like repellants for customers!

My opinion may seem quite harsh but think about your recent retail experiences. Have the staff generally been in the generation Y category and talking about their parties on weekends? Sound familiar?

To be honest I hate shopping for that reason – I feel like I am intruding on a personal conversation. STOP THE PRESS! I am the customer – the reason these businesses EXIST!

Maree Hamilton

All business is built on relationships.
Retail chains need to teach their gen Y staff what customer service actually is. Many have been born into a generation that is very tech savvy but lack personal skills. They text and email – very rarely do they make a phone call. The result is a lack of social interaction and this is reflected in the larger retail stores. Many of the smaller stores understand this and focus on their service because this is a unique point of difference for them – the customer gets to actually have an enjoyable shopping experience.

I also have lost count of the amount of times that I have been shopping and there has not been a staff member in sight. I usually just walk straight out of the store – they lose me at that point. I have noticed that the baby boomer generation generally provide great customer service – they grew up with a social grounding and less technology.

Being a networking specialist, I am constantly working on how I build relationships with others. I challenge large corporations to adopt my relationship systems – the result would inevitably be educated sales teams that are more comfortable in building rapport with customers. A prime example of this is the global fast food giant McDonalds. This company has many generation Y teenagers running its franchises built on systems, which means any staff can step into a role and the customer will still receive the same experience - this is key.

Major corporations sometimes miss the absolute essentials. Do our major banks actually know what their customers want? NO! They need to also provide value to small business customers and this would be possible through webinars and events by giving them the information they need to operate more efficiently and to solve their problems and challenges. This is an area that I am working in right now to help large businesses actually connect with and PROVIDE VALUE to customers so that the customers feel respected and remain loyal to the brand.

A recent visit to a major supermarket chain saw four of us customers standing on the OTHER side of the counter waiting, and waiting, and waiting, while two girls talked loudly about their weekend. They made eye contact with us and continued their conversation. After five minutes of wasting my valuable time, I gave up and left. Do I still shop there? NO.

What is the answer to the general lack of retail service in Australia?

It is not in introducing a tip system similar to the way the retail industry operates in America or in commission based sales but in staff training and establishing a service-orientated culture for business!

Every business, no matter the size and no matter who the clientele is, must train their staff to be prompt, courteous and respectful. Don’t forget to SMILE and don’t take your personal problems out on your customers – we didn’t do anything wrong. Stop your conversation when we walk in the door and acknowledge us - give us your attention and respect!

It’s a no-brainer, if your employees are doing their best for your customers and treat them with respect, your business will thrive!

Maree Hamilton is a business  strategic alliance specialist. She is a Public Speaker, and CPA accountant - she has dealt with thousands of small to medium sized businesses. She teaches businesses how to become innovative, stand out from the crowd and work on relationships which are paramount to business success! Maree also has a business networking group which holds events in many Melbourne suburbs. www.networkevents.com.au. If you would like  to find out how Maree can help your business reach new heights by working on relationships you can email her at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Customer service: Does my bum look big in this?
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Maree Hamilton

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