Customer Service – The Face of the Company
Posted by Becky Carroll on March 6, 2008
I had two very different customer service experiences today, one right after the other. The first was a great example of what not to do; it took place at an office supplies store. Directly after that interaction, I went to another store next door and saw an example of a nice service experience; it took place at a pet supplies store.
What Not To Do
After picking up my merchandise, I went to the cashier and waited for him to finish whatever he was doing on the register/computer screen. Without looking up, he asked me, “Do you have a rewards card?” I didn’t, and he completed the transaction. He then asked me, “Do you want a bag for this?” I did, and off I went. The whole thing was done in 13 words, and the cashier never looked at me at all. I may as well have used a self-checkout machine (if they had only had one!).
What To Do
As I brought my merchandise to the front, the cashier saw me coming and smiled at me. She said hello and asked me how I was doing today. She then proceeded to chit-chat about the weather (warm and sunny), asked me for my rewards card (everyone is doing these, huh?), and finished up the transaction. We had a real, human-to-human interaction, with real conversation.
A Quick Analysis
It should be fairly easy to see the differences between these two experiences. I don’t think I will return to the first store; I will find somewhere else to buy my office supplies (online, perhaps?). The personnel seemed more interested in their own internal activities than in serving the customer. The second experience was friendly, courteous, and professional. The personnel there were attentive and interested in serving the customer.
As I have said before, it all comes down to the personal touch. In the competitive retail space, the personal touch is critical – we don’t make relationships with brands, we make them with people. Every interaction with the customer is another brand experience, and each person who touches a customer is marketing that brand through their customer service.
A Third Example
One can go too far with “friendly and chit-chatty.” I was at a clothing store a few weekends ago, and one cashier (a young man) was very talkative. He really seemed to care about the customers and talked about everything like he was an old friend. Nice, but it was a little excessive – some of the people in line behind us asked him to hurry up and not spend so much time chatting. We really have to look at our customer experiences through the eyes of our customers… and to most customers, he may have been a little too friendly and talkative.
I heard an interesting quote on the radio today which sums this all up: “The little things aren’t a lot – they are everything.” Little things like looking a customer in the eye, greeting them, smiling, and carrying on a human conversation go a long way towards marketing a company/store as friendly and welcoming. And it is cheaper than all those advertisements, right?!
(Photo credit: www.stockxpert.com)