Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Customer Service - Delight or Disaster

I must say, customer service has increasingly become a thing of the past. Are you finding the same thing? It is becoming so obsolete we are almost accustomed to NOT having genuine service when we are out and about. From calling the phone company and getting their automated system ("press 1 to hear me say the words 'press 1' again, press 2 to hear other options NOT including the ability to speak to a live human being...") to cold attitudes at department stores; customer service as we know it is indeed a lost art.

Maybe it's just me - let's see if this scenario rings true for you.

Upon approaching the 'gates' of WalMart you're greeted with a grizzly "Welcome to WalMart" (interpretation: get your stuff and get outta here, I'm only saying 'welcome' cuz I have to). As the greeter is clearly glued to the official greeter stool/bench, you almost feel compelled to say "Hey, you know what, I'll get a cart for myself - thanks - don't get up" but you want to be polite so you bite your tongue. It doesn't take you long to realize they've completely rearranged the store from last week so everything as you know it is now flipped around and in completely different aisles. (It's actually a marketing strategy to keep customers in the store longer. Their hopes are that you'll come across something you didn't realize you needed until now, thus buying more.)

Discovering that locating just one particular item from your list will now be more like a scavenger hunt, you try to find an associate to help you. Lucky to have found someone after about a 10-minute search, you hear "Oh, that's not my department so I don't know" and they walk off. You feel compelled to say "That's ok, you could use that big ol' intercom system to find the appropriate associate (hey that rhymes) but, you know, I've been looking for that item for an hour and a half, I'm sure I'll find it eventually" and you decide you don't need that item today. (Hello - lost sale.)

Now it's check-out time. Well, sort of. Only 2 out of 22 possible check-out lines are open. (I ask you, why did they build 22 check-out lines when they were only planning on opening up a few at a time? Even around the holidays only half of them are open. We wouldn't want to interrupt the important discussion between the 4 or 5 teenage checkers hanging out around the courtesy desk by asking them to - I don't know - do their job? Ok, I digress.) Exhausted, paying customers are now pooling at the front of the store, making it nearly impossible for those who are still shopping to make their way through.

Woo Hoo - now it's your turn to check out! You're thinking you can brighten her day with a smile, after all you're the chipper one of the bunch and you're a professional. Too bad she's not making eye contact, right? You're lucky to even get a 'hello' from her, let alone a smile. Instead you receive a glare of inconvenience because she's not able to engage in the teen conversation at the courtesy desk, thanks to you. The glare returns if you're not taking your bags full of twice-beeped items off that spinning carousel of doom. (I kid you not - I once had a checker who stopped scanning my items and stared at me because I didn't take my bags right away to make room on her carousel for her. After saying "Ugh!" she stomped from behind her cash register and threw my bags into my cart. Nice.) You receive a complimentary, yet swift, kick in the behind when the checker hands you your receipt. The grand finale is: NOW the greeter is kind as you're leaving and says "Thanks for shopping at WalMart." Now in all fairness, not every WalMart I have ever been to has been like this, just our local store.

Where has all the service gone? It must be where lost socks go in the laundry. I mean really, don't they understand they're in the service industry? Let's look into that a bit. Herein lies the difference: Those who lack service are working there solely to pay their bills. That's it. They're not in it to improve their skills, reach a higher goal or fulfill a lifelong dream - it's just a J-O-B to them. It's all about their perspective. So why should it make any difference to them whether or not the customer is satisfied?!? This is truly their perspective, otherwise they would behave differently on the job. You can tell the ones who are truly thankful for their jobs. We as direct sellers have a GREAT opportunity to give unbelievable customer service. It's very easy for us because there is such a lack of service everywhere we turn; so even the tiniest snippet of customer service will go a LONG way! We are in our businesses to help people (and, oh ya, the paychecks are mighty nice too). That's where we can come from a place of service and really serve our customers! What a privilege! What an honor! It's about more than making money, we're helping people and making them feel good (which, in turn, makes us feel good)! We're making a difference, leaving a legacy and building on something that will outlive us! Doesn't it make sense that our business will flourish when we come from a place of service? I can hear it now: "Hello, Customer Delight Department, my name is Jennifer. How can I serve you today? Billing discrepancy? No problem, Mark in accounting will take good care of you as that's his specialty - my pleasure to connect you!" Aaahhhh... breath of fresh air! Next time you experience a lack in customer service, and it's almost a guarantee that you will, be thankful that you can enjoy what you do. Remember, others can tell whether you're thankful for your 'job'. Makes you think about sharing the business opportunity with that 'spinning-carousel-of-doom' checker, doesn't it? Hmmmm...

© 2008 Jennifer Stoll The Stand Up Coach All Rights Reserved

Please do, as long as the following blurb is included in its entirety: Entrepreneur Jennifer Stoll, The Stand Up Coach, is Founder and Editor of “Info Buffet” a free ezine for professionals in the Direct Sales/Party Plan industry. An author, speaker, and success coach, Jennifer provides principle based resources in a fun & humorous way. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, make more money and have more fun in your business then visit Jennifer at http://www.thestandupcoach.com.

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