Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Mundane Interaction with a Customer

I walk up to the customer service counter, having put away a stack of books that customers had left on a table, looking for yet another stack of books to put away.

There's a customer looking at me in that way that I've come to recognize as, "I'm a customer, I need help, I haven't gotten it yet, why aren't you helping me yet?" So, obviously, I say, "I'm sorry ma'am, do you need help?" She's middle-aged, standing alongside several other persons, among them two small children.

"I need help finding a book." Yeah, you and everybody else.

"Sure. Come on over to this section of the counter, please." She does, and I continue, "So what can I help you find?"

"Do you have any books on the Canadian Railroad?"

Pause. I start typing 'canadian railroad' into the computer. "So are you looking for a kid's book, or...."

"No." Slightly displussed. I look at her more closely, and notice that the kids I saw were with another customer being helped by another employee. "I'm thinking of something more like a travel book."

"Oh." I scroll through the listings, glancing at the descriptions. "The system shows several books sort of about the Canadian Railroad. Um.... Looks like mainly history books and picture books...."

"No travel books?"

"Hmm, well this one's kind of ambiguous. Might be a sort of travel book." I point it out to her.

"Well, what section is it in?"

"It's order-only, have to get it from the warehouse. All the books I'm showing are warehouse-only titles. We don't have anything in-store on that subject."

"Why not?"

Maybe because you're the first person I've ever heard of looking for books on that topic? I shrug, "We carry lots of books, but nothing in-store about the Canadian Railroad. Your best bet might be to try our website." I give her the address. "And if you want us to check stock status of a particular book, or to order it in-store, you can just give us the ISBN and we can probably have it shipped here for you."

"So you don't have anything in store?"

"No ma'am. I'm sorry about that."

She sighs. "All right. Thanks for checking, anyway."

"No problem. Let me know if there's anything I can at least try to find for you." A smile, and we're done with one more routine interaction in my daily life.

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