I’m Sorry, We’re a Little Short-Handed Today


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I went to my local Petco store last week to buy a few more guppies for my fish tank. I got this tank for my kids a few years ago but they never bothered to look at the tank and I don’t think they’ve ever even fed the poor fish. But that’s another story.

Anyway, since there wasn’t anyone in the fish department to help me, I went to the cashier to ask if he could please get someone to help me. By the way, there were 2 cashiers and another employee just standing there talking with each other. Apparently they had nothing else to do…

The dude said, “Sure, I’ll get someone over there right away”. I thanked him and walked back to the fish tanks.

Five minutes pass and no one comes to help. I walk back to the dude and again asked for help. He said, “I’m sorry, we’re a little shorthanded today”.


Don’t tell me that!

As a customer, should we be concerned that the store is “short-handed today”? No. Does this mean that we should accept subpar service because they are? No. Should I have walked out of the store? Frankly, I almost did.

The dude then said, “I’ll call someone right away”. Ten seconds later I hear him call for “fish department assistance” over the store loudspeaker.

That tells me that he never called anyone when I first asked for help. Then, when I asked again, he gave me the short-handed story to justify the poor service and lied to me too!

I guess he was so wrapped up in his “important” conversation with the other coworkers that he forgot to call.

But, wait a minute…

If there weren’t any customers and that gave him and the other 2 employees time to B.S. with each other, they certainly had time to help me spend my money in the store. One of them should have come to help me if they were truly “short-handed”.

Business is Difficult

Shipping problems happen, employees call out sick, bills forget to get paid, and deliveries arrive late. We all know it happens from time to time. Great companies know how to deal with these challenges and do so in an honest and professional way. They never make excuses or lie to cover-up an issue.

Our Job

It’s our job to serve the customer in a way that doesn’t let them see “behind the curtain” or see how we do it, regardless of the challenges we face. That’s what makes great service so special and hard to find.

“We’re a little short-handed today”…give me a break!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve DiGioia
Steve uses his 20+ years of experience in the hospitality industry to help companies and their employees improve service, increase morale and provide the experience their customers' desire. Author of "Earn More Tips On Your Very Next Shift...Even If You're a Bad Waiter" and named an "ICMI Top 50 Customer Service Thought Leader" and a "Top Customer Service Influencer" by CCW Digital, Steve continues his original customer service, leadership and management-based writings on his popular blog.


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