Breeching Customer Service Expectations

In the fourth chapter of A Good Book, In Theory book we learned that people’s perceptions of reality govern ways that they act in social systems.  Breeching experiments are designed to help disrupt the rules of given situations that people take for granted.  After reading this chapter I learned that for the past seven years I have performed several breeching experiments at my place of employment.  I would like to share a few of them with you.  

1.  Breeching a register transaction

At the store that I work at it is customary for us to suggestive sell to the customer for every transaction.  Besides the usual no a large number of people would respond “not today”.  So I took it up on my self to challenge this response the next day I was at work.  Anytime that someone responded with “not today” when I suggestive sold I would respond in this manner. Early in my life I found that I have the ability to make myself tear up at will which came in handy for this experiment.  I would work up some tears and put on my most saddest face and ask the customer “if not today… than..than… when?” Many customers laughed and sometimes purchase a muffin.  Some looked shocked at my display and bought a muffin, which I am pretty sure was out of pity.  Then there were the customers that got angry and were not amused by my antics.  They would not buy a muffin threaten to tell the manager about me, and then do nothing.

2. Breeching in a customer conversation about expired food

At the store I work at hot food can only be out under the warmer for a certain amount of time.  It must then be removed marked down as waste then thrown out.  This process has intrigued some customers to ask what happens to the food that is expiring,and if they can have said item for free since we are throwing it way.  The usual response to this questions from the workers, in the kitchen, is that it is against company policy to give expired food to customers for the liability purposes about food born illnesses.  When customers have asked me why don’t we give out  expiring items instead of my throwing them away. I abruptly respond with crushing an expired item in my hand, and (with a stern look) state we do not tolerate failure!

3. Breeching the use of a hairnet

At the company I work hairnets are to be worn with working with any food products.  For women they must have their hair tied back and wear a hairnet.  For men they must have their hair in a hairnet, and if you have any facial hair you must wear and an accompanying beard-net.  I have found that the hairnets are large enough the stretch over my entire head, and when I do this and customers ask why I have that in my head I either tell them I am a bee keeper, or I’m a robber…stick em’ up!  I also found it quite interesting that the beard-nets are in the shape of white triangles.  I will sometimes wear one of them over my hairnet tilted to one side, which in Japanese folklore the white triangle on someone’s head meant they are a ghost. I would then be told my my assistant manager ” Jay stop it!  You are not a ghost, and nobody gets what you are doing anyway!”             


5 thoughts on “Breeching Customer Service Expectations

    • Well in using the concepts of time and the great speed up of life, from chapter five in Sears. The shared cultural knowledge is that a “gas station” or “convenience store” are suppose to be a places where you can quickly go in and out with your purchases, and can usually be socially oblivious about the person taking your money. Unlike other cultures you do not need to invest any time building a relation with the vendor/cashier. I believe my examples reminds people that cashiers are not robots or house plants, and when I do this some people take it as a huge inconvenience and get upset. As for how much my bosses love me. My level of professionalism does not quite mesh with the Durkhiemian social order model that company likes to instill in it’s employees, and thus reflects that in my yearly performance reviews.

  1. Chris Allen says:

    It’s interesting, and perhaps sad, to think of the mere reminding of retail patrons of the humanity of those they are interacting with is a breeching experiment. Yet, given the way some patrons behave with employees, I suspect that it is .

    (Sometimes I respond to that kind of at-the-register sales attempt atypically myself, by declining, and then asking “You must get really tired of asking that, don’t you?” Usually I get a smile and an agreement.)

  2. Tom Montemurro says:

    it would be intertesting to see you in action at your job because i have worked retail before too. I have done similar things at work and didnt realize i was basically conducting an experiment. who knew lol

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s