The Waiting Line

standing in lineI ventured out to Guitar Center this past Saturday to purchase a microphone and stand for a music performance I was playing the following afternoon. Getting an early start, I arrive at the store only 10 minutes after they open. I have no clue what I’m looking for, so I ask a representative for help. He nods to what I’m asking, then says very kindly, “I am actually from a different department and cannot assist you. But, that man [points to other representative] can.”

He then walks up to the other man, who is assisting another customer, and explains what I need and leaves the room.

I wander around the microphone section for about 5 minutes, trying to find something in my price range. The other representative then hastily approaches me and says, “I’m out of my cheapest mic but I do have this one.” With that, he points to one in the counter box. He yells, “What else did you need?” as he’s running to the back of the register, fiddling for an item for another customer and ringing him up. He’s looking at that customer, taking his credit card, but talking to me. His eyes are practically spinning and there’s no sign of a smile on his face.

Now, he was still assisting the original customer. And, assisting me. There was also one other person waiting there too. I definitely understand the intensity of this situation however, staying calm, cool and collected is typically ideal when you’re on the “customer service stage”. When he continues to ask me questions about what I need, in a very quick “let’s hurry this along” manner, I stop and say, “Hey, it’s totally OK. No need to rush anything along.”

He then looks at me with a glare, saying, “Well, I have 3 customers to assist. This guy [points to one customer], you and that guy [points to another]. If I don’t hurry with you, he will still be waiting.”


So, if I read this right–let’s just help everyone as quickly as we can because there’s always going to be someone else behind them.

What’s wrong with this approach? I’ll tell you what I think:

The “valued customer” feel dissipates and suddenly I am just another annoying person waiting in line. There will always be another customer to help therefore I don’t mean anything.

Is this really the way you want your business represented?

What ended up happening?

I got my microphone and stand, however, one of the pieces he gave me to connect the microphone TO the stand wasn’t correct. I of course don’t find this out until the performance and didn’t have time to run back to the store to return it, so I connected the mic to the stand with a hair tie. Creative, aye?

Moral of the story?

No matter how busy you are, take the time to help your customers as if NO one else was in line.


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  • Great post Jenny! That is certainly a culture thing at Guitar Center. For guitar stuff I definitely prefer either online or a small, boutique guitar store. I typically only go to Guitar Center to window shop or spend a gift card.

    This gives real perspective to the term multitasking doesn’t it? How do empower our team to take their time on one customer at a time? I really like it that you challenged this guy to step up his game.

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