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Who’s in charge…

by Randall Craig on February 23, 2007

Filed in: Blog, Management

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How many people remember the concept of “customer first”? Recently I had an experience where this lesson was absolutely forgotten.

I had done my homework beforehand, and had gone to the retail outlet to make a multi-thousand-dollar purchase. There were three clerks on duty, and not another customer in sight. My question on delivery options could not be answered by anyone – so I asked whether a manager would be available to shed some light. The clerk said “absolutely”, and then went to the back room for a minute, returning with the answer to my question – or so I thought: “The manager is on lunch – come back later”. I asked if it would be possible for the manager to answer my one question, and then I could proceed with the purchase. The clerk scurried into the back, returning again with a similar answer: “The manager is still on lunch – he doesn’t know when he’ll be finished. Come back later.” Putting aside the customer-last attitude, the manager’s answers were unbelievable: the example being set for the floor clerks is unfortunate at best. I left, telling the clerk that it was clear that the manager’s lunch was more important than me, and that this wasn’t appreciated.

Who bears the blame here – the manager? I would suggest that he was somewhat at fault. But who hired the manager? Who trained the manager? And who is monitoring the manager?

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and


George Torok April 19, 2007 at 11:29 am

What a powerful example of “ignore the customer” behaviour. I am curious why you did not name the store. We need to spread examples of both good and bad service – along with names of the culprits.
You’ll notice that I named a few names on my blog at

Randall Craig April 19, 2007 at 11:47 am

You’re right – we should hold others accountable for both poor service and great service.
In this case, the only reason I didn’t name the retailer is because they are a local computer retailer that most readers wouldn’t know. For the record, the business name is “Data Integrity”. Ironic, isn’t it?

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