I’m a big advocate and proponent of customer service. As in a huge believer. Ever since my mid-20s when I worked in a retail store called Eastern Mountain Sports and went through some phenomenal training, I am sold out on quality customer care and training.
Unfortunately in this day and age, well-done customer service is hard to find. Sometimes, next to impossible to find.
Several weekends ago, I was traveling with my family back from a wonderful weekend filled with friends, family time, and fireworks. We had stopped in a 7-Eleven to gas up and get a snack for my son. My wife let him get 2 candy bars because the sign said they were 2 for $2. She specified that he could only eat one (which he did not, by the way, but that’s another story for another time!) and this is an unusual treat for my son.
When I went to check out, the checker told me the total, and seeming a little high, I asked if the candy bars had rung up at 2 for $2. They did not, he said, so he proceeded to ring them up again. This time the total was 9 cents cheaper. I still didn’t think that was right, but went ahead and paid him.
When I checked the receipt, I noticed the bars still rung up at the normal price. So, I turned around and politely said, “The candy bars still didn’t ring up at 2 for $2.”
To which the checker responded (without any hint of real helpfulness), “Then that’s probably an old special.”
Trying to maintain my composure (my son, after all, was right there noticing what was going on) I replied, “But the advertised price is 2 for $2.”
He quickly retorted, “Well, I will take the sign down in a little bit.”
“So are you going to honor the price.” My voice at this point was probably noticeably agitated.
“There’s nothing I can do.”
“Like give me my money back?”
“I can’t control what the register rings up.”
At this point, one of the other customers, hearing the exchange asked if there was a manager available. The employee only shook his head no, not even looking at this woman.
At this point, I needed to step away. One, because my son was standing right there, and this was not one of my finer moments. Two, because I needed to cool down before laying in to that employee like I so wanted to do.
I took my son to the car and returned into the store. I went over to the cashier and said, “You might not be able to control what the register rings up, but you can control how you treat your customers.”
He said something else about the register, and I finally told him, “Well, you just lost a customer. We’re never returning to this store again.”
His nonchalant response? “Ok. Have a nice day.”
It was at this point that I really wanted to throw something at him more than a verbal sparring match. I refrained however, and went back to the car and left the store.
I vow never go back to that store again and likely will avoid all 7-Eleven stores from now on – not to be vindictive or spiteful but to support stores who care about their customers and treat them with a sense of value.
How could this have been a totally different outcome?
It would have been very easy for this young man to make me a satisfied customer. All he would have had to do was honor the price on the candy bar and refund me the difference. Case closed. Instead, he opted for the “there’s nothing I can do approach.”
There is always something you can do if you are focused on the customer.
What lessons can be learned from this exchange?
1. Treat your customers with respect.
I felt little respect from this individual and even thinking about it now, weeks after, gets my blood boiling a little bit. There is no excuse for treating people disrespectfully or with a lackadaisical attitude. Both of those scream, “I don’t care!”
What can you do today that will scream, “I care about you, the customer!”?
2. Give the customer what they want.
The companies that will excel in the future are ones who will not only deliver for the customer, they will over-deliver. Sometimes it’s a simple solution; however, at other times, the solution might be a little more complicated. Bottom line – keep your customers happy.
That being said, sometimes you do have to fire customers or clients. These are people that will not be happy no matter what you do. (That’s a different story and blog post all together.)
How can you over-deliver for a client today?
3. Always be smiling.
I don’t know how long this young man had been working here, but it was obvious he didn’t like it. Or maybe he was having a bad day. I don’t know and frankly, it doesn’t matter. When you’re in a customer service position, sometimes you have to fake it.
Put a smile on your face. Be friendly. Act like you care (even if you don’t). People respond way better to smiles and friendliness and it will make your day go much better as well.
How can you level up your friendliness today?
4. Train your people right from the start.
Again, customer service training is key, and either this employee didn’t care to heed his training, or he wasn’t trained. Regardless, he didn’t need to be working that day.
Also, in working with a lot of millennials, soft skills are a necessity that don’t get a lot of attention and training. As a rule, most young people lack these kinds of skills and must be trained in them. Don’t assume everyone knows about customer service. Have a specific training plan and take all of your employees through it.
What is your plan to train your employees in customer service?