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Customer Service Heaven and Hell

Dan Bobinski
January 12 -- By Dan Bobinski

Is it something in the air or something in the soup? Whatever it is, there seems to be a growing gap in levels of customer service. My shopping experience this weekend adds to the growing body of evidence. 

I wanted to buy a small, portable printer and a rolling travel case to carry both my laptop and the new printer. My budget was $400. 

Without going into all the gory details, at the first store I went to, despite the abundance of employees on the floor, I could not get anyone to come over and answer a few questions. 

Finally, more than five minutes later, a man walking through the department asked if I had found everything all right. “Are you a manager?” I asked. He replied “yes,” and then came over to me. 

I told him that I had been waiting more than five minutes for help, and that I thought the customer service in his store sucked (yes, I actually used that term). He apologized and called over a young man to help, touting him as the store’s “printer expert.” Well, an expert he might have been, but as I asked a few questions he was condescending and offered me nothing beyond what was printed on the promotional placard already in plain sight.
I thanked him for his time and headed for the door. I couldn’t reward inept service with a $400 purchase. 

Two blocks down the street was an office supply store. I swung in and there was Kelly, helpful as could be. I was still twenty feet away from her when she greeted me and told me she’d be right with me. She asked my name and used it when talking with me. She wasn’t overly friendly or bubbly – just professional. Even with a store full of people, she made sure my questions were answered and kept checking with me as I shopped. 

When I decided to make my purchase at that store, Kelly discovered there were no printers in stock like the one I wanted. Kelly picked up the phone to find out what she could do. As fate would have it, the store’s order shipment had arrived that morning, and among the 48 yet-unpacked totes of merchandise was supposed to be one of those printers. Kelly grabbed another employee and together they went through all the totes until they found the printer. 

Kelly cared. She inquired. She served. She went the extra mile. And without question she earned the business. 

Guess which store I’m going back to the next time I need something? Guess which store I’m likely to avoid? 

Now put yourself in the role of talking with a customer. Are you serving that customer? Are you making him or her feel like a million bucks? Are you going the extra mile? 

Or, like at the first store, are you taking your customers for granted? 

I guarantee that if you give your customers heaven, they’ll return for more. If you take them for granted they’ll probably fly like a bat on the way out the door, never to return. 

The choice – and it is always a choice – is up to you. 

Interested in improving the customer service at your workplace?
Consider a Leadership Development workshop on customer service

© 2004 Dan Bobinski / Leadership Development. You may freely forward this information on condition that you send the text as an integral whole along with complete information about its author, date, and source.
Dan Bobinski is President of Leadership Development. He can be reached at (208) 375-7606 or by Email at dan@leadershipanswers.com.

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