Retailers really need to get their act together when it comes to making sure everything they do is a reflection of their brand ¬– in particular their management and staff.

When I choose to be a customer of a given retail establishment, I expect that place to be worthy of my investment in them. But, more often than not, we are all sorely disappointed.

What triggered this response was my recent experience at one of the leading office supply stores. I had stopped to pick up an external hard drive for a Mac.

The store carried numerous drives for PCs but only one for a Mac, and it didn’t have enough space for my needs. Fortunately, I found that one of the PC drives was compatible with the Mac and had the space I needed.

None of the drives were available on the shelf. All of them required that I wait while a store assistant retrieved it for me.

While the assistant was collecting it, I picked up a few other supplies I needed and went to check out. Without eye contact or a greeting, the store employee rang up the purchase, grabbed my credit card to process and handed me my bag. It’s shocking the level of customer service we are expected to put up with. And, unfortunately this is the case more often than not.

It’s this mentality – “build it and they will come” – that has gotten so many retailers in trouble. In the retail world, customer service is a table stake – one of the criteria you must have to be in the marketplace. However, many retailers fail to understand how important it is that your employees represent your brand. Companies need to invest in brand training because their employees are an extension of the brand. If retailers choose to have employees that act like they would rather be elsewhere, why then wouldn’t the customer want to elsewhere as well?

As it turned out, the assistant did not retrieve the drive I had asked for so I had to return it. The return policy and service was even worse than the purchase.

Oh, and that hard drive I needed? I went back to the office and ordered the drive on-line with the store’s competitor.