On Customer Service

It seems lately that good, really good, customer service has gone by the wayside in most businesses. Many have a “customer service department” instead of demonstrating the philosophy that all employees, in a retail establishment in particular, are the  customer service representatives.

When you go to a Wal-Mart, you sort of expect the service to be sub-par. At least I do. I have been surprised on one, maybe two occasions, when the associate didn’t say, “That’s not my department,” and actually helped me find something. This is the exception, however, not the rule. Most people don’t go looking for great service in Wal-Mart. On the other side, you walk into Nordstrom and you know you are going to be treated to the exact opposite. How does one company filter their service ideals down to the frontline staff so well and the other so poorly? Am I the only one that notices this?  Decent service isn’t that difficult.  Having worked in customer service in various businesses (retail, waitressing, banking, training, etc.) I feel I’ve earned the right to say this.

The other day I was in a mall buying some lotion at Bath and Body Works. I love their smelly goodness and usually they are a staffed by employees who are very helpful. Imagine my surprise when the two associates that were working were in a huddle talking and could barely be bothered to acknowledge my presence. Then on my way out, one of them couldn’t even look up from her phone to say “Thanks for coming in!” She didn’t even look up.  Among other things that bothered me with this whole interaction was the fact that she actually had her cell phone on her on the sales floor!  Are you really that important and busy that you have to text or check Facebook that often for a 4 hour shift? Really?!

My mom has boycotted a local supermarket because of poor service. On one occasion, she was told by a deli employee that the meat slicer “was closed”. Translation: She didn’t want to slice turkey. The deli wasn’t even closed yet. In another visit, a bakery employee told her that chocolate chip bagels were “out of season”. I never knew chocolate had a season….in my house, it’s a year-round treat!

After our dental adventure  I was shocked when the dentist (not the assistant or the receptionist) called personally 2 days after to check on our littles and see how they and their teeth were faring. I have never been called at home by a doctor or the dentist personally. And he chatted for a few minutes – it wasn’t like a “hurry, make this call and get off the phone as fast as possible” type of call. I was so impressed. Isn’t it sad that when we get good service, we are almost surprised?

All you have to do is the bare minimum with some eye contact and a sincere smile and you have out-serviced most of the competition. As a result, I will keep patronizing your business. 

What is your worst/best customer service experience?


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