Customer Revolt: It Could Happen

I have this recurring fantasy that’s been playing out in my mind for the last few weeks. No, it’s not the one with Brad Pitt and me stranded on the island. This one is much more intense, more exciting. (I’m flushing just at the thought of it). It starts with groups of protesters gathering at each entrance of my local shopping mall. It’s not about civil rights or land preservation. But it is something that raises emotions and brings upset just as much as those issues. These activists feel violated and incensed by the issue at hand. So offended, in fact, that they’ve come to protest and have pledged not to leave until their demands have been met.

Bundled in heavy winter coats and scarves, they walk clockwise in lopsided circles outside of the mall doors. Young and old, men and women. All gathered to support the cause they believe in. Every few minutes, they begin to chant. “Hey hey, Ho ho, rude sales clerks have got to go! Hey hey, Ho ho, Service here is at an all time low!”

They pledge to boycott this mall, no matter how convenient or how pressured they are to shop there. They refuse to continue to be treated as poorly as they were this shopping season. Sure, they’re aware of how difficult it is to attract quality employees. In fact, the unemployment rate is at its lowest in years. Good help is hard to find! And, the stress of the holiday season probably didn’t help. Regardless of the retailer’s excuses, however, these consumers have hit the wall. They’re ready to take a stand. They’re here to take a stand–even if they have to stand in 25 degree weather.

Then, the local news media shows up. A reporter rushes up and asks for a comment from someone–anyone. People need to know why they’re here, and this station is going to be the first to inform the public of the heinous activity going on a the local mall. After a brief hesitation, a woman in her 40s, wrapped in a forest green parka with the hood pulled tightly around her head, steps up. A flannel scarf covers her mouth and nose. Only her eyes are uncovered, just barely peeking out below her fur-lined hood. Looking more like a frozen asparagus spear than an activist, she betrays her appearance by speaking confidently and looking directly into the camera that is focused on her. She speaks slowly. “We want respect. In fact, we demand respect,” she starts. “We are the customers!” Gesturing to the mall doors behind her, she continues, even more loudly than before. “WE are the reason these stores are in business! Without us, there would be no business!” The reporter quickly responds to the protestor’s statement by asking for the group’s demands.

“We expect to be treated with courtesy and kindness when we enter a store, not as an interruption or a bother. Hear us now, corporate sellers. We will now frequent those stores that treat us as valued customers, even if it means driving a little farther or paying a little more. Our loyalty is to those who see beyond the profit margins and look at the people who make them possible!”

She then takes a step back and thanks the reporter for her time. Behind her, the rest of the protesters applaud through their mittened hands and start another chorus of the “Hey, hey” chant. The reporter, with her very best This-is-a-breaking-story face looks into the camera. “Ladies and gentlemen: You have just witnessed an incredible moment in our history. The people have spoken.” A dramatic silence, and the camera pans to the demonstrators as they continue their formation. Shoppers approaching from the parking lot hear what is going on and retreat to their cars or add their voices to the refrain.

Customer Service is forever changed by this show of support.

Posted by Pam Wyess in Customer Service.

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