Whenever I don’t get great service, I’m disappointed. At times, it makes me boiling mad. Take the experience I had the other day around nine in the morning….
My Customer Service Experience Was Terrible
I stopped at a national chain drug store for a bottle of over-priced, filtered water—the kind that’s supposed to make you “smarter”—at least that’s what the label says. I could have gone to a convenience store, but in this case I knew they had what I wanted and it was handy.
Several bottles of the water were lodged at the back of the slotted holder, and it happened to be, of course, at the upper most shelf of the refrigerated unit. Since I couldn’t reach them without climbing on top of the unit myself, I turned to the rather tall, thirty-something-old employee (looked like he could be a manager) and made him aware of the problem (opportunity actually).
He looked at me briefly, and without smiling or saying anything he immediately stopped stocking the shelf he was working on and walked over. Still, without saying a word to me, he pulled some bottles from the back of the slot and started handing them to me, one… then a second… then a third bottle. “Whoa, wait I only wanted one,” I said. He took two bottles and put them back, turned and walked back to the shelf he was stocking just a few feet away.
The man never smiled, never made a comment in my direction, never apologized for the inconvenience, nor did he make any attempt to thank me for my business.
Impersonal. Indifferent. He made me feel like he could care less about my business.
To make matters worse, when I walked to the front to pay, the employee (a young lady maybe in her late twenties) was leaning on the counter with both elbows, scowling.
She was gloomy, indifferent, and uninterested in me, her customer. She was just going through the motions of ringing up my merchandise and going back to being mad at the world, or feeling sorry for herself. Who knows?
What I do know is that she didn’t greet me, didn’t smile. She didn’t say thank you—she did nothing to make me feel like she could give a rip about my business. I even had to ask for a bag.***
There Were 5 Vital Points These Employees Had Not Bought Into:
- The most important activity that can ever go on in any business is when the customer calls or comes in to buy something. Contrary to popular belief, this trumps “real” job duties like stocking or straightening shelves, sweeping, doing paperwork, filing, typing, looking something up on the computer… or TEXTING. Heaven forbid!
- The customer isn’t interrupting us or keeping us from our “job” whenever they ask a question or want help, helping the customer buy from our business IS the job!
- When the customer chooses to patronize our business, they have essentially disqualified all other competitors, for the moment, in favor of our business! What an honor. Customers don’t have to do business with our company, and they likely won’t again if we deal out mediocre service.
- Don’t treat the customer like you feel – treat them like they want to feel. Look, we all have bad days once in awhile… don’t dump your bad day on me if I’m your customer! If you’re bummed out, stressed out or worked up about something, hide it from me until I get off the phone or out of your store, please!
- Loyal customers are the meal ticket for any business today. If customers don’t patronize your employer, if they go elsewhere, you won’t have inventory to stock and you won’t have a counter to lean on!
There’s nothing accidental about giving great service. And, there’s nothing accidental about giving poor service either.
The only way poor service like that happens, at that time in the morning, is if the management of that store has woefully underprepared the employees for giving great service.
It would be virtually impossible for a company to over-invest wisely in delivering great customer service. Unfortunately, in too many instances, companies under-invest in training, rewarding and correcting customer service performance.
Bottom line: Too few companies, have definitive methods in place for measuring actual service levels. Fewer still, take data and transpose it into meaningful action steps in order to create a vigorous culture advocating and assuring the delivery of outstanding service. Survival in today’s challenging environment, demands a different course.
Mark Holmes helps companies increase sales, service and employee performance. He utilizes twenty-four years of experience advising, training, speaking to and coaching some of America’s most successful small and large companies. His ideas on employee retention, employee motivation, customer service and leadership have been widely featured in major national media like FOX, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, BNET and The Wall Street Journal.