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Good Customer Service
Ahh yes, good customer service. I remember that. Is that when somebody says, "hello" when you walk in the door to a store? Maybe it is when an employee not only tells you that you dropped something on the ground, but bends over and picks it up for you before they even say anything? For most of us, good or great customer service is found when someone goes above and beyond our expectations (which should be easy to do these days) and does something we would not have expected them to do for us.
Today it seems that no matter where you go, people seem to take less pride in their work. If we as consumers have a question about a product in their store, most employees are unavailable to answer our questions or are just plain not interested. In this, our first customer service article, I would like to touch on a few tips that you or your company can use to improve your customer's experience when shopping with you. As a footnote, we have a full page of customer service tips for you to use. Now on to the good stuff.
That's Not My Job
These days it seems that when I have a question in a store, I am either assaulted by a salesperson, or walking the entire store in search of someone that can answer my questions. A perfect example of a store where nobody wants to help happend to me last year while in New York. I was shopping in one of the largest (if not the largest) home improvement stores in the country. You know the ones with the orange and white signs? Now, let me say this, I am from San Diego. In San Diego, I normally find plenty of helpful employees in this store. They may not have the best advice, but at least they are trying to help me when I have a question. So, back to my story. I am in this home improvement store and I need to purchase a few thousand dollars worth of supplies. I have decided to fix up my parent's house with my painting contractor. We enter the store, knowing exactly what we need (as we both have a lot of experience in remodeling work and the neccessary tools and equipment). Our problem was, that in New York, some of the terminology for the supplies we needed was different than out west. After looking around the store for the supplies we needed, we decided to find an employee to help us out. This was our first "mistake". The first girl we asked for help was walking towards us when we asked if she could help us with a few things. Without breaking stride, this girl entered herself in the customer service hall of fame and said, "this is not my department" and kept going! She didn't stop, she didn't look at us, she didn't pass GO, or collect $200. I hope for everyone's good, she was going home, never to return to that store.
Our next attempt, seemed like a sensible one, the customer service help desk. As we approached the counter, we saw 3 empployees working the desk. Jeff and I both figured we would have some success here. We asked for item number 1. She had never heard of item number 1, so she asked her manager who was talking to employee number 3 behind her. After waiting about a minute to ask him (he was in the middle of discussing where he went to dinner the night before), the manager came over and told us he had no idea what the item we were looking for was (Just to let you know, there were about 200 rolls of it in one of the isles). Striking out on a few items and raising our blood pressure a bit, we found some success and retrieved the items and moved on. The last problem came when we decided to retrieve the 32 foot ladder we needed. This was easier said than done. The poor guy who attempted to help us, had just started working there, and from the sounds of it, he had just arrived in the United States as well. He tried his best, but just did not have the knowledge to help us out.
So, at this point, we have interacted with no fewer than 5 employees and the only one that seemed to want to help us, could not speak english. This was definitely not turning out to be a good customer service experience. That is, until we met Kelly. More on this in a minute. We returned to the "Customer Service Help Desk" and after a little more of a heated discussion with the girl that worked there and then the manager, they told us the best thing to do (as we needed things to be delivered...we had no car and had to take a ferry to the house) was to call back tomorrow and speak with Kelly at the "Pro Desk". He gave us the item numbers for the items he knew, Kelly's information and the phone number. We left and hurried to make the last boat out to the island.
So, with a fair amount of apprehention, I called Kelly the next morning. I started the conversation by explaining our situation in detail. Where we were, the constraints on getting there, and our experience in the store the previous day. She listened and apologized for our customer service fiasco we had endured the day before. We gave her the list of items we needed and when she could not find something in the computer, she took down the name and researched it on her own and called us back when she found it. Kelly soon became our biggest asset, as we battled a 2 week window we had to work and terrible New York springtime weather. Kelly became friends with Jeff and I and we all knew each other's voice after the first week on the phone. Kelly even became friends with my mother and father, who answered the phone on weekends. Soon enough, we had forgotten about the terrible service we had received in her store the weeks before. Kelly was able to overcome all of that by going out of her way to make sure we got everything we needed, when we needed it. Did Kelly need to do that? No. That was evident by the atmosphere inside that store. It was truly "every man for himself customer service". Even though that was the environment that the store's management allowed to exist, Kelly took enough pride in her work, to make sure she did an outstanding job.
Thank you Kelly!