Get out your notebooks, folks. It’s time for another lesson from the Kat Richter Institute of Distance Learning for Problem Customers. I was hoping we could move on to phone numbers this week (ie. “How to recite your phone number to the cashier so you can earn points on your Customer Loyalty Card”) but reports from ground suggest we’re still struggling with zip codes.
“Damn!” one of my fellow associates swore last Friday. “What is with people and their zip codes in this place? They be actin’ like I’m axin’ for their social security number!”
“I know,” I sighed. Staff abuse has skyrocketed since the implementation of the zip code policy. Now we have to ask customers three questions, even if they’re just buying a pack of Silly Bands for their bratty offspring.
1) May I have you’re zip code please?
2) Would you like to donate a dollar to autism?
3) Do you have a customer loyalty card?
Technically speaking, if the answer to Question #3 is “No,” we’re supposed to follow up with, “Would you like a customer loyalty card?” but I can’t be bothered, unless Head Boss or Bad Cop are within earshot, in which case I’m quick to extol the virtues of the Customer Loyalty Card.
But back to the zip codes. “It’s ridiculous,” my co-worker complained. “This one lady told me, ‘Why you need my zip code for? You comin’ over for dinner?”
I was impressed. “You comin’ over for dinner?” definitely trumps “How ‘bout autism uh give uh dollah to me!”
And there was more. “Another man told me, ‘What? You gonna register for cable TV in my name?’ I mean what is their problem? They think I wanna ask them for their zip code? They think I wanna come to their stupid house for dinner? Puh-lease…”
I could tell she was starting to crack under the pressure. As Front End Specialist, I had to do something and so I launched the Kat Richter Institute of Distance Learning for Problem Customers, and promised my hapless co-worker that I’d be sure to exchange her dollar for bus fare the next time I had my register open.
Back when I was a student of distance learning (I’m not kidding, I was homeschooled), I found it was easier to learn something I didn’t want to learn (ie. diagramming sentences) if I knew why it was necessary to learn (so I could grow up an be a Sales Associate. Actually, on second thought, I don’t think that was explanation my mother gave me. I think she told me I had to study grammar so I could graduate from high school, get into a good college and make something of myself… but who knows).
Applying this same logic to the Institute, I offer the following explanation: the cashier has to ask for your zip code because the computer will not let her proceed with your transaction until she enters those five, magical digits. I’m serious. I don’t care how quickly you can unload your cart, whip out your coupons and thrust your Customer Loyalty Card into my face. We’re not going anywhere until I get your zip code.
You might be tempted to ask why The Shop wants your zip code in the first place. And, for the sake of your privacy, this is a perfectly valid question. We can’t require customers to disclose personal information but nor can we determine where to place ads without knowing where our customers live. By “we,” I am of course speaking on behalf of the Powers That Be over at Corporate. I know it sounds like I’m just toting the party line here, and to a certain extent, I am. But consider this: you love the 40% off coupons that come in the paper, right? Well, how are you going to get your hands on those beloved coupons if we stop placing ads in your newspaper? And how are we supposed to know which newspaper you read if you won’t tell us your zip code?
There. It all makes sense now, right? Let’s give it a shot.
“May I have your zip code please?”
(Fill in the blank with an appropriate, five-digit response).