Retail Customer Service Standards on 3AW 693 AM Radio Melbourne with Shane McInnes

Retail Customer Service Standards 3AW Radio Melbourne with Shane McInnes and Sue Ellson

Retail Customer Service Standards on 3AW 693 AM Radio Melbourne with Shane McInnes

By Sue Ellson

Topic: Retail Customer Service Standards

Date: 14 December 2023

Media Outlet: 3AW 693AM Melbourne

Broadcaster / Interviewer: Shane McInnes

Producer: James Szabo

Duration: 00:06:54

Time of show: 17:10

Audio Recording:

YouTube Video:

Retail Customer Service Standards on 3AW Radio Melbourne with Shane McInnes and Sue Ellson


Well we know it’s the busiest time of year in shops and for many the whole reason to use the traditional brick and mortar stores or the traditional department store ahead of online retailers is the benefit of customer service. So let me know what is the customer service like out there at the moment? Good, bad, non-existent? 133 693

A couple weeks ago, I thought I’d start some Christmas shopping with a major retailer. I needed assistance getting a box from a higher shelf. I knew exactly what I wanted it was up high, couldn’t reach it, tried to find someone. Do you think I could find anyone? I went up to one person.” I don’t work in this department.” Okay. Another person, “Oh sorry, I’m on break.” Okay. Another person. “Oh no, sorry I’m just working on the register at the moment.” In the end, I took a photo of the item, got on my phone, got it $15 cheaper on Amazon plus free delivery and I won’t be going back to that store.

So 133 693 What is customer service like at this time of year? Keen to hear your experiences. I should balance out that critique with an absolute positive review. I reckon the best customer service anywhere – Bunnings. There’s always staff always people happy to help. Can return, no issues at all. Bunnings. Just a joy. Unfortunately they don’t have a toy department but alas 133 693. Sue Ellson is a business advisor she joins me on the line now. Sue, good afternoon.

Hi Shane

Is customer service as bad as I think it is or is it just depend on the different stores.

Well I think you’re right it definitely does depend on the different store and I’ve also experienced fantastic service at Bunnings, so I know what you mean by that, but it depends on the actual number of staff is a first thing but also how it’s managed so you might remember the old television show ‘Are you being served?’ and we had Captain Peacock uh there on the floor monitoring things and Mr Rumbold uh who also bumbled his way through it but there was a lot more people to begin with but they also had their own roles and their own specific things and there was somebody to sort of go higher up to and a lot of that middle management layer has gone missing now and the other thing that’s really interesting is there’s a lot of tech that can predict when the customer flows come in but there’s not always the staff to you know support them so that’s probably when people will say look I’m only going to do this job that’s all I can manage for now.

Are we out of touch if we expect the department store experience to be what it was 10, 20 years ago.

It’s a tough question. Look for many people when they start out in retail they don’t necessarily get a lot of training either offsite or on the job so that can make a difference and I know definitely when I started in banking we did a full week long induction program before I even served any customers so you know that was a very different experience but also I think we’ve become a lot less patient as customers so for instance if you go online you can order it on Amazon you know get the free delivery save 15 bucks you can do all of that whereas when you go to a store that’s not necessarily a possibility and one of the things I’ve noticed in stores is a lot less stock as well because of you know trying to reduce cost and improve margins and all that kind of thing so I would suggest that obviously as a customer, put a smile on your face before you ask for it, but secondly consider going to those smaller businesses closer to home where it’s the owner operator doing it I think you’ll probably still get a reasonably good level of service there if you’ve got the time to to manage that.

It’s interesting what you say Sue about uh training that goes in.


I worked at Myer many years ago now and I I still remember day one the first thing they said is always to start to greet the customer just it doesn’t matter if they’re in your department just walking past just a simple, “Hello, how you going? Can I help you?” Anything like that to point someone in the right direction and to me that was basic of working in retail they didn’t have to tell me that. That was something that yeah I I kind of get it I’m I’m working at a a shop front do you think sometimes those going into retail now just, “I just want my 20 bucks an hour or whatever it is and I really don’t care.”

Well it depends on what sort of background they’ve had. I mean you may have had parents who taught you well and you were you know taught to say hello to people when you met them or even say their name or look at their name badge like whenever I go into a store if I see a name badge I say you know “Hello Mary” and and off I go. So there’s a lot of things that we learn within our cultural background but I think what happens particularly at Christmas time, a lot of people are very stressed, they’re time pressured uh and when we’re concentrating we forget to smile and I say that a smile is a universal language and you you can probably get a lot better service but also if we think about you know their job it’s difficult but also to praise the retail staff and sadly retail trade has the second highest level of Job Mobility as in people change their jobs so frequently because the other issue that a lot of retail workers face is abuse from customers.


When people can’t get what they want out of the store and of course that can again make them a little bit reluctant to offer that perhaps extra service.

Before I let you go Sue, if I do experience bad customer service it certainly doesn’t give me a right to abuse anyone.


But if I do get bad customer service or unsatisfied from that shopping experience am I within my rights to just say, “Can I have a a chat to the boss?” “Can I have a chat to the manager?” and let them know that that store isn’t up to par and I’m thinking of taking my shopping elsewhere.

Well I think any feedback is good feedback and particularly if you’re going there with the process of trying to educate not vilify the person for for the mistake one of the things I do recommend though is that if you get good service consider writing a review online for that business because I think a lot of people are willing to complain, not so many people are willing to say thank you and back in the day I remember a lot of customer service staff would get chocolates and good goodies for Christmas uh because people appreciated the service that they may have had for the entire year so I think we really need to recognize these people are on the front line and you know some of them just are literally limited and can’t do any more than they’re doing they’re already operating at maximum capacity and perhaps a little bit of understanding you know it’s the season for Goodwill so uh yeah let’s sort of try and focus on that but yeah look if it’s a critical issue then yes definitely take it further up.

It’s a wonderful point and uh I I think if you can get that good service and someone excels that needs to be recognized.

It does.

Just as much as someone who’s not pulling their weight. Sue Ellson, Workplace Expert Business Advisor appreciate your time.

Thanks Shane.

Let’s get to some of your calls.

Social Share

RETAIL CUSTOMER SERVICE STANDARDS // 🛒Have retail customer service standards declined? Is it realistic to expect customer service nowadays? Shane McInnes and I discussed this topic on 3AW 693AM Radio Melbourne.

We discussed:

  • reduced number of customer service staff
  • reduction in offsite and onsite training for retail staff
  • high rate of job mobility in retail trade
  • increase in expectations of customers
  • time precious customers
  • abuse from customers
  • escalating complaints to management
  • recognising and rewarding good customer service

Enjoy the show online at and thanks to Producer James Szabo for reaching out!

#3awmelbourne #customerservice #sueellson

Further information

Australian Bureau of Statistics Job Mobility Rates

Podcast Recording of the Show – starts at 01:19:31 – 01:26:24

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