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The Lost Look



I work in retail. I love retail. One of the things that makes it fun is the challenges that happen during the course of any given day. Of course, being in retail one has to deal with a "customer is always right" attitude and you must work in a beaurocracy. These are my thoughts and what really goes through my mind in a given situation.

It's a common practice nowadays to instruct your employees in the finer points of serving the customer. While this is a very good endeavor, I sometimes think that it goes a little too far. I've been managing in retail for over a decade now and this has spanned a few companies. With each company I have had to give lessons on how to recognize "The Lost Look".

From a management standpoint it would seem to follow that if a customer is looking confusedly at either items on a shelf or at the signs in the aisle that there is a possibility that this person is in a bit of distress. Of course this little bit of common sense, as any manager knows, is always lacking in about half of the employees in any given establishment at any given time. It is so bad, in fact, that I have found myself having to mimic "The Lost Look" on many an occasion just to teach someone new to retail how to recognize it. No matter how many times I teach it, I can still walk around the corner and see one of my people walk straight past a person with this exact look. This is, of course, enough to make you want to scream.

The employee isn't always at fault, of course. After all, they are often focused on a job and the customers are fully capable of asking for assistance. Many jokes are made about men who won't ask for directions...well, there is a core group of people who are known fondly to me as "The I Don't Want To Be A Bother" customers. This type of customer has a distinct inability to interrupt an employee if they even seem to be doing something resembling work. They will use "The Lost Look" in order to get help. Instead of a five minute shopping trip, this type of customer is suddenly in the store for half an hour before they catch one of the 50% of employees in an establishment that actually use common sense and know "The Lost Look".

The moral of this story for a customer is that if you don't know where it is, ask someone who spends 20-40 hours per week in the store for help because they have a better idea where you're going than you do. If you're an employee, actually pay attention to the customers, after all...they ARE your paycheck.


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