Dear Babies “R” Us:
First, let’s start off with the positive.
You are close to my house. You have ample parking. You have provided me with food for my child and with the products that help me transport my child safely in the car, and sleep warm at night. You stock more organic products than I first expected. You sell the Nintendo Wii, which undoubtedly has allowed thousands of men to somehow slip that onto a baby registry. For all of these things, I thank you.
But we really need to have a talk.
First, let’s cover the products you sell. How can there possibly be a need for an entire wall of bibs and three aisles of strollers? How am I supposed to tell the difference between the Triumph DLX, Triumph LX, Triumph Advance, Symphony, Symphony 65, Tribute, Titan, and Titan Elite car seats (and those are just the choices from one brand). Why is it that you stock roughly 19,659,308 toys that all do the same thing – play muzac versions of Bach, flash, vibrate, rattle, and prop up the Chinese economy, all while offering six textures, 8 colors, and creepy pictures of cartoon jungle animals – but only 12 books? Why is it that every doctor and nurse and child-rearing expert tells new parents not to put anything in their a babies crib yet all of your display cribs are decorated with enough bumpers, blankets, stuffed animals, pillows, and toys to smother a linebacker? I’m sure you would respond by saying, “Hey, we are just a merchant; we aren’t here to tell people how to raise their child.” Well, you kinda are. You tell people how to safely install car seats, you don’t sell bottles with BPA in them, you even have “Helpful Hints and Safety Tips" on your website, so why ignore the medical advice on SIDS? OK, so you sell bumpers and sleep positioners and the like, right. I’m sure that is because a lot of parents still want them. You are just meeting consumer demand – more capitalist power to you. But do you really need to put it on your “must-have” list for a registry?
Now let’s talk about your customer service. I have always been impressed with Babies “R” Us and your ability to hire and train the most apathetic of employees. You certainly have a talent there. Very little work above the minimal seems to be done. Help you find a price? Sure, just wait a second. Help with a mattress? Sorry, I specialize in bath tubs.
The most disturbing the about a store full of people that apparently “R” all about babies is that none of them really seem to like children. I can’t count the number of times I have been in your store, and looking back, I also can’t remember seeing an employee ever acknowledge the existence of a child. Other stores that focus on a niche usually hire people who like that demographic. Every time I went in to Petsmart to buy cat food someone would ask me about my cats. How old they were, if they were brother and sister, how long we had them. They would pat dogs when they came in and they would talk to you about their pet iguana. They keep doggie treats at the counter for Pete’s sake. It seemed like the employees of PETsmart actually liked PETS. You wouldn’t hire someone to work at an auto parts store if they hated cars, so why hire people at Babies “R” Us that seem allergic to toddlers? Sure, maybe working at Babies”R”Us makes you a little numb to kids. Maybe it even makes you really sick of them. But you do work at a place with “Babies” in the name. Shouldn’t you at least be able to tolerate mini-human beings?
Would it kill you to give my daughter a little wave when I ask where I can find the Baby Einstein videos? How about asking how old she is while walking me over to the land of gliders? When my wife and I were in your store making up our registry (you know, that thing that encourages our friends and family to spend thousands of dollars at your store and not other stores) not once did someone ask my wife “Hey, how are you feeling?” or “Is this your first?” or “Are you going to find out if it is a girl or a boy?”
That kind of stuff can go a long way.
Right now your customer service is terrible, and just ok customer service isn’t going to cut it. Really, your employees need to be better at customer service than everywhere else. Why? Because your customer base is full of wackos like me. Parents tend to be in a hurried state of distraction/frustration/ready to bite someone’s head off if they don’t find that package of flash cards and diaper cream before little Madison needs to be fed again. We probably aren’t the easiest customer base to work with. We usually have a screaming infant/toddler hanging from us, or maybe our breasts are engorged, or maybe we were dragged out of the house by our wife to pick up nipple shields and we realized that the game just started but we can’t find our wife and child in the store because we are stuck in the changing table section and they are trying to find someone to help them figure out which is the best sippy cup to buy out of the 3000 you offer. So that means when your computer goes down at the checkout, like what happened at our last visit, that you shouldn’t stare at it and hope it comes back to life. Or when, also on our last visit, a coupon doesn’t scan right the first time, second time, third, fourth and fifth time you try, please, in the name of all that is good and holy, do not try and scan it a sixth time. Just go get someone to take the F’n dollar off of my bill.
I really shouldn’t forget to tell you about when we made our first attempt to set up a registry and we made the mistake of coming in 45 minutes before closing. We were told that we couldn’t get a scanner because they require them all back to the front 15 minutes before closing so they can get ready to close. “We want to go home too, you know,” the employee scowled. Really, I wasn’t trying to hold her up, I was just trying to spend lots of money at your store. After ten minutes of cajoling and letting her know that we didn’t want to keep her at the store any longer than she was contractually obligated, she relented and gave us the scanner. She then spent the next half hour making announcements on the loudspeaker: We are closing in 30 minutes, please return all scanners. We are closing in 20 minutes, please return all scanners. We are closing in 15 minutes…you get the idea.
So, Babies “R” Us, you seem to have cornered the market. As much as I despise your store and all it stands for, I was there this weekend, spending money. Congratulations. But there is nothing pleasant about shopping at your store – do you really want to be the place that no one CHOOSES to go but where they HAVE to go? Maybe you are trying to prepare expectant mother for child birth by putting them through this trial by plastic. Maybe forcing us to deal with unhelpful, unfriendly, and unresponsive employees is your way of thickening my skin so I can deal with a teenager someday.
Really, it wouldn’t take much to turn this around. You have so much potential, so much to offer. Just look at how Wal-Mart and McDonalds have been able to upgrade their image. People want to buy your products, we shouldn’t walk out the door pledging never to go back.
So take the first step, Babies “R” Us. If you really believe in that joke of an "Oath of Office" that says you "proclaim your allegience to kids everywhere and champion their right to a childhood filled with magic" then get your heads out of your behind. Try listening to your customers, take some extra time to help a few out, and maybe, just maybe, say hi to the kids.