How To Get On Food Retail Employee's Good Side

I’ve been working in food retail for quite some time and I’ve had all kinds of customers. Some are super rude, some are extremely nice, some are just… weird. I’m writing this not to criticize anyone. I’ve come to realize that not everyone understands what it’s like to be in food retail, even if they think they do, they don’t. Most people don’t really have a clue what makes us tick and what triggers us. Here are some tips on how to interact with food retail employees to maximize both your and their enjoyment:

1. Acknowledge us when we greet you

A lot of the time when I greet customers as they walk in the store, they just completely ignore my co-workers and I. It was as if we weren’t human beings and their eyes were just on the products they want to buy the entire time. Trust me, I know how awkward it is to interact with workers at retail stores, but trust me, employees DON’T care or WON’T realize the awkwardness of the interaction like you do. All they care about is serving you,  making sure you get what you wanted and that you acknowledge them. So simply saying “Hi” to workers at retail stores is going to make the entire transaction much more pleasant and natural.

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2. Always say ‘Thank you’

I cannot stress how important this is. Even though it is our job to serve customers, we really do appreciate it immensely when people verbally acknowledge our hard work and service. Letting us know your gratitude will make us feel acknowledged and we will be more likely to give you better service because you put us in a good mood.

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3. Smile

I’ve always thought nobody on earth could resist smiling when they’re getting ice cream. I was wrong. (Yes, I work at an ice cream store). I have no idea why but there are often people who come in for ice cream that are grumpy even after trying samples or eating the ice cream they bought. One of the reasons why I love my job is that I can bring happiness to people. If people don’t seem happy about getting our product or service, we get kind of upset (at least I do) and that just makes the whole transaction process a little sadder. If you smile and show just a tiny bit of enthusiasm, we will amplify that enthusiasm and give you our best service.

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4. Apologize and be genuine

Whenever you’re causing any inconvenience to the employee, such as changing your order after they have started preparing it, apologize and show how sorry you are. Even if it’s not such a big inconvenience or even if you’re not sorry at all, apologizing would help you out in magical ways. I cannot stress how important apologizing is.

Here’s a little insight into employee’s psychology:

When a customer changes their order and doesn’t apologize, what goes on in our heads: “Ughhhh, now we have unnecessary waste and I have to start over again,”

When a customer ASKS if they can change their order and express how sorry they are, what goes on in our heads as we tell them it’s alright while smiling enthusiastically: “Ha, now I can show you how great my customer service is,” and then we would show you our A+ service. So that’s a win-win situation for both the customer and worker! This sounds bad but giving up A LITTLE BIT of your dignity for just a second can earn you much better service.

An apology honestly has such a POWERFUL impact on food retail employees’ attitude towards customers. You will understand if you’ve worked retail before, wink wink.

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5. Let us know if you have coins before it’s too late

If you have coins or even THINK you have coins when you are paying, it wouldn’t be a good idea to stand there and shuffling your purse/bag. We have no idea if you’re just rearranging your bag or looking for something or looking for change. Let us know if you’re looking for coins before we hit anything on the cash register, otherwise, we’re going to sweat buckets trying to figure out math in our heads.

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6. Please be reasonable, THANK YOU <3

I don’t want to be rude but some customers I’ve had are really unreasonable when it comes to certain things. Some people bought their ice cream, licked it and then decided they wanted another flavor instead. Some customers say “Oh,” and realize that’s not possible and moves on with their lives but some customers would get mad and argue with you until they have it their way. It is honestly the saddest moment in history when we have to dump out an entire scoop of ice cream with a delicious sprinkle waffle cone in the trash cause there is no way we can sell that later on or eat it ourselves since they already licked it. The worst part is, they’re not paying for the two ice cream, they’re only paying for the ice cream they got after they decided to switch flavors so we’ve wasted our resources on them without getting anything back. What I’m trying to say is, I get it, you want to get the most out of your food experience but please be mindful and be reasonable. Please don’t argue about your unreasonable requests. It is definitely acceptable for customers to ask if certain things can be done, but if we say no, we will greatly appreciate it if you just let it be.

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7. Be understanding, don’t pick out tiny details and start an argument

When there is an entire store of customers and our service isn’t top-notch, please don’t get mad at us. We are only human and things happen. Please be understanding and put yourselves in our shoes. We LOVE it when you show sympathy (the good kind). When employees are working a shift all by themselves and have a long line of customers, if you acknowledge that, perhaps say/ask something along the lines of, “Aw, are you working all by yourself tonight?”, just anything to let us know that YOU KNOW we’re working by ourself and that we’re under a lot of stress. We would instantly feel a wave of relief that you somewhat understand our situation, definitely would appreciate that and be extra nice to you.

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8. Don’t complain about the price too much

We understand how things are pricey sometimes, after all, we’re trying to make money ourselves to afford things too. It’s absolutely normal to say a thing or two about the pricing at the cashier when you pay but it’s going to be extremely awkward if you keep complaining about the price when it wasn’t the retail employees’ fault that the products are the price that they are. All we can do is smile and awkwardly laugh. If you would let it go after just talking about it for a few seconds, we would greatly appreciate it.

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9. Clean up after yourselves as best as you can

Yes, it’s part of our job to clean the store after customers have used the tables and chairs but we would really appreciate it if customers try their best to keep the place clean. Some stains and food on the table it’s totally fine, we honestly don’t mind cleaning but if you spill drinks or dropped ice cream on the table, if you at least try to use some napkins to clean it up a little bit, we will definitely appreciate your effort.

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10. Don’t waste things

There are some customers out there who will take an entire STACK of napkins only to leave them on the table in the store unused. We’re honestly not mad, we are rather saddened by the waste they’ve created. Even though the napkins are unused and seemed clean, we could not put it back in the napkin box and let other customers use them as that is unsanitary, so we are left with no choice but to throw them away. That is very wasteful and if people do it constantly, it will burden the environment in various ways. We retail workers definitely would be grateful if customers could be mindful when it comes to taking resources such as napkins and utensils.

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11. Tip us (at least a little) if you have a ton of change

Sometimes we hand customers a palmful of loose change and they just shove it down their pocket and leave. I’m not saying customers are obligated to tip, it is definitely just an option. However, if you want to make an employee happy and welcome you warmly next time you come in, tipping when you have spare change would brighten our mood and our service. Even just tipping a penny or a nickel, our eyes would still sparkle.

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Sorry if this was mostly just rant, but I honestly truly believe if people understand what it is like to be on the other side, retail experiences can be enhanced immensely, making our society a better and more harmonious world. Be nice to retail workers, collegiettes!