Friday, July 06, 2007

It's the customers, stoopid!

We made an ordering error. A book that a customer desperately needed today for a birthday tomorrow wasn't going to arrive. Action stations! Matthew phoned around and a copy was secured at a certain shop for a mysterious Mr Perutz to collect by 2 o'clock. Armed with some book tokens I ventured off to the Charing Cross Road.

I found my way to the right desk and waited. And waited. And waited some more. You see, there were two members of staff but only one was attending to the queue of 4 customers waiting to be served. The other was merrily chatting away to a publishers rep ordering new titles for august and september, studiously ignoring us wallet clutching punters.

Now, I was under the impression that the reason our bookshop and other bookshops exist is to SELL BOOKS TO CUSTOMERS. FOR MONEY. Apparently this bookseller thinks bookshops exist so she can spend her day chatting amiably to publishers about lovely books and authors. She is by no means alone in this behaviour in the booktrade. Bookshops are a bit notorious for it and it's wrong, wrong, wrong. When are they going to get it through their thick skulls that it's all about THE CUSTOMER, STOOPID!


  1. This is all about class/status.

    Ringing things through a till is the equivalent of digging ditches or sweeping the streets in a bookshop. Nobody really wants to do low status jobs do they? It has never mattered that these jobs are often vital wheras the kind of job people see as "dream jobs" are usually pretty pointless...

    In other words most booksellers would rather write a book (the world would keep turning if most of these books remained unwritten) than sell them (despite the fact that they wouldn't have a job at all is nobody in the shop did this!)

  2. Yeeeees... but actually if nobody wrote books booksellers wouldn't have jobs either. Is symbiotic, innit? But still no excuse for bad manners.

  3. Marie - you write the books (you are a writer)

    I'm just suggesting booksellers remember they are booksellers - and prioritise selling books!

  4. AnonymousJuly 09, 2007

    One bookseller on the till per four customers sounds all right to me.

    And I'd much rather buyers were out there on the shop floor than hidden in an office.

    You risk sounding like the snarky, impatient customers you used to dislike so much when you worked for the chains.

    That and slagging off another fine indie (oh yes it is!)is not very...well, indie.

  5. A typical 'anonymous' comment.

    If I'm a punter and I'm waiting and I see a member of staff deliberately ignoring me for no real reason I get very cross.

    And spare me this 'indie camaraderie' bullshit. I don't care how many books they've got, if they treat customers like an inconvenience then they're a crap shop.

  6. If you are chatting to a rep and a customer is waiting, you drop the rep. No question. And most half-decent reps will understand completely.

  7. I used to work in a bookshop, a well known chain. I never sought to go beyond the humble position of "bookselling assistant" so it may seem impertinent of me to agree with you but I do. The customer should always be attended to and given top rate customer care.

    I am appalled by the fact that I can go into a bookshop and complete the whole transaction without the assistant so much as uttering a word. I might get a grunt in answer if I really insist. Don't they teach customer care anymore?

    Bookshop assistants of course do not spend all their time at the till. There is plenty of other work to be done. So when you are on the till, you can afford the extra energy to be polite and pleasant with the customer. Happy customers come back; disgruntled ones do not.

    Apart from anything else, it is extremely rude to ignore a customer who is obviously waiting for attention. Give people the standard of care you would expect for yourself.