Verbal and physical abuse of retail workers is at an all time high and there are calls for changes in the law to protect staff. A recent survey by the British Retail Consortium found incidents of violence and abuse towards retail workers had nearly doubled post pandemic with over 400 incidents per day. In addition new figures by the Retail Trust show that over 40% of workers suffer abuse at work and 47% feel unsafe at work leading to 20% taking sick leave after experiencing abuse. Customer service is a two way street and shocking behaviour of this kind is unacceptable on so many levels. On World Kindness Day please be better customers not worse. Courtesy costs nothing but buys everything.
The pressures of the cost of living crisis and increased financial uncertainty are having a significant employee mental health across a whole range of customer facing industries including retail, hospitality and travel. A recent report revealed that about half of UK workers are running on empty suffering burnout, mental ill health and work related stress. It’s now more important than ever to be mindful of the feelings of others. We simply don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors. We can make or break the day of those on the other side of the counter working in increasingly difficult and challenging roles just as easily as they can make or break ours.
With complaints also at an all time high, yes we may need to wait that bit longer at the till or on hold to speak to a representative. You may have received the wrong order or are still waiting for a refund to be processed. If you experience an issue with a product or service you are perfectly entitled to exercise your consumer rights but ranting and raging is not the way to do so. Think before you act or speak. Be active not reactive.
What’s the one thing you could do to be a better customer on World Kindness Day?
- Say hello, please and thank you– This is such an obvious thing to do but the most basic manners are often forgotten. Be patient, mindful and respectful.
- Ask staff how they are and interact with them so they feel valued and appreciated– A few pleasantries cost nothing and can make for a more personal experience if you are remembered on your next visit.
- Use social media to praise and champion excellent service rather than just picking up the negatives– We are always very quick to tackle a company if something has gone wrong but not so quick to recognise excellent customer service.
- Remember and use the name of whoever is looking after you – Again this can make for a more personal experience. It’s nice to recognise and treat the person serving you as in individual and not just a representative of the company.
- Recognise and appreciate service above and beyond the expected –Take the time to complete any appropriate reviews and name any staff members who have stood out in terms of the customer service they delivered. Thanking the staff member personally and making sure you mention their name to whoever is in charge may also ensure that their hard work is recognised and rewarded accordingly. We all need to feel appreciated and that what we do is valued and worthwhile particularly in these uncertain times when we’re at our most vulnerable.
On World Kindness Day let’s make kindness, mindfulness and politeness the order of the day. We’re all in the same storm, just different boats.
If you would like to support retail workers and get more information about Respect for Shopworkers Week (13th -19th November) and Freedom from Fear campaign please head over to the USDAW website.