In my own (not so) humble opinion, that last post will be a hard one to beat. I put my heart into it and I think it was an outstanding post. I have more to write but I’m scared of sounding so bland after such a great post. I’ll give it my best and hope y’all like this as much as the last.
Customer Service. What is it? To put it simply, it is the interaction between a consumer and a business. It could be as simple as buying a postage stamp from the Post Office or getting a cup of coffee from your favorite Barrista. Customer Service, in all actuality, can even be the interaction between yourself and your family. You are providing them a service – as a mother – and they are the consumers. Isn’t that an eye opening thought?
For months, I’ve complained about customer service. For some reason, it’s really difficult to get someone to treat you with respect, dignity and understanding when you come to their establishment. They are providing a service or a good that you want/need/crave and you are there to get it. Shouldn’t they be happy, excited even, that you’ve decided to blow your money in their place of business?
Now, I’m not talking about popping into WalMart for a gallon of milk. No one I know expects anything from the people at WalMart. We’ll avoid places like that in this post. What I’m referring to is the quilt store, the local coffee bar and other such places. Things you don’t need to survive this one life we’ve got; rather, things that you want badly enough to fit the price into your budget and acquire.
Going to a quilting/crafting store like Porters, you don’t get very much customer service. They don’t see it as a privilege for you to show up with your questions or desire for a certain item. If you ask a question, you typically get a response of, “No” or “It’s over there.”
Popping into JoAnn’s Fabrics and Crafts might get you a little better service but not by much. They are so busy, they don’t care if you get helped or not. Short answers are the name of the game because they’ve got so much else to do, they can’t be bothered with the reason their doors are open.
Stepping into a place like Madsen’s is a tad better. The quilting section is helpful, for the most part. I am the type to build a relationship with a store that I’ll be going to quite frequently and it helps me when the person I’m speaking with understands where I am at and is knowledgeable about what I typically gravitate to.
When I had my own store, I tried (and taught my workers) to be the one who remembered the person and would be able to tell them something of their interest or help them find that elusive item they couldn’t live without. It was an honor for someone to show up in my small space of the world and I tried to always treat my customers as if I really were honored they showed up.
The other day, I popped into a “Great Clips” here in town. Since I sliced my hand open, getting a decent shower/bath and doing my hair has been difficult and the stringy mess on the top of my head was starting to look nappy and disgusting. I needed someone to properly wash and set it so I could feel good about my appearance again.
When I walked in, I was greeted with, “Did you confirm an appointment on our website?”
Huh? Website? What?
This was followed by, “What is your name?”
“And your last name?”
“Such and such.”
“Ok. Follow me. Let’s go get started.”
After staring dumbfounded at her for a moment, I laughed slightly and asked, “Aren’t you even going to ask what I’m here for?”
“Ok. Are you here for a hair cut?”
“Well, what can I do for you, then?”
“I sliced my hand open and I’ve had a devil of a time washing it properly. I am looking for someone to just wash it good and set it for me.”
“Ok. Follow me. Let’s get started.”
When she started to turn and have me follow her, I watched her look at a co-worker and roll her eyes with a slight shake of her head.
It is my understanding that Great Clips is typically the place new hair stylists work when they get out of beauty school. It’s a great place to get their feet wet and most of them branch out from there once they’ve got a few regular clients and some experience. I get that they are new to the game and just biding their time until they can move on to bigger and better. Do I need to be treated this way because they don’t want to be there? They chose their profession – not me. I just showed up, desperate for clean hair.
Seriously, though, can’t you -at the very least- pretend to enjoy it? What good is trying to build a steady client base if you treat people like that? You are providing a service and I need that service.
I followed her back and she washed my hair. Those of you with brains know that I’m serious when I say that I could feel the attitude pouring off her the entire time she washed my hair. I constantly fought against the urge to get up and walk out. I didn’t deserve this, why should I put up with it? What right does she have to treat me like I’m intruding on her day in such a fashion?
I could have called anyone, I could have gone anywhere. For convenience, I popped into Great Clips.
After washing it, she started styling it. I didn’t tell her to do any specific thing, I really didn’t care. I just wanted it clean. The style she put on my head wasn’t my typical style but it did look good. Today, the stitches come out of my hand and we’ll see if the cut closed up enough that I can risk using my right hand and doing my own hair. Trust me, it needs it again!
When did customer service turn from being an honor into an intrusion? There are so many articles on the internet on how to provide good customer service. Companies I’ve visited insist that their employees treat all customers like royalty but, at the same time, make sure you get all your work done. This can get difficult, when a business is successful and there’s so much to do in a day.
What is the solution? How do we get back to where things were way back when (perhaps as they were in the 1950s)? How do we retrain our work force to get them to care about the person that steps into their establishment?
Is there an answer, in today’s world?
As I type this, I am sitting in Shari’s. My typical “office” of choice. I’ve tried other places but Shari’s has the perfect mix of power for my laptop, coffee that tastes good and food that I can afford when I am starving. I’ve even tried working at home – instead of coming to Shari’s – but I can’t. The seats at Shari’s are actually some of the only ones I’ve come across that don’t hurt my back to sit for long periods of time. At home, I have no such animal. I can’t sit at home for long because it starts to hurt my back and then, I get nothing done.
How does Shari’s customer service rate compared to other places? They are wonderful! They let me sit quietly and do my thing with very little interruption. Most of the waiters/waitresses know me by name and treat me well. I can tell when one has had a bad day or when things are going great. They ask me specific questions about my life and I remember details about theirs.
My only complaint about Shari’s is that, after I have eaten a meal, they forget me. No coffee, no water. Nothing. I’m done and they forget I’m here. Oh, well. Can’t have perfection all the time, right? They provide a service and I love what they provide. Perfect balance!
Maybe the manager at Shari’s should go teach that young upstart at Great Clips how to treat a customer?
Speaking of which, after these two posts, I’m starving. It’s time for a low-budget lunch.