Customer Service Opportunities Are Everywhere
How many opportunities for providing good customer service are there in one simple store visit? My wife Lori visited the local store of a national warehouse chain today, one she goes to often, and that she usually has a good experience at. Today…not so much. Among the things she wanted to buy (in addition to some garden hose, a 52” flat-screen TV, and a donkey cage – you really can get everything at these places!), was a rotisserie chicken for dinner; people around here rave about this store’s rotisserie chickens.
When she saw there were none in the case (opportunity 1: keep an eye on stock levels!), she found an associate and asked if they knew if they might have any (opportunity 2: associates should always watch for customers in need of assistance).
After looking at the empty case Lori had just pointed out, the associate’s reply was: “Well I guess we don’t have any more” (opportunity # 3: if you’re not going to go look for some, or ask someone else if they know, at least sound empathetic and apologize for being out of stock. Next level: offer something else, to keep the sale).
Lori then pointed to a sign that read, “If we’re out of rotisserie chicken your next one is free”, and asked how she could get the free one. She was told…wait for it… “we don’t do that anymore”. (opportunity 4: don’t be obstinate with customers - where did she think she came up with this one?). Lori turned the sign around so the associate could see it. By this time a second associate had appeared to “assist”. The response (from the second associate)? “Well, you’ll have to go up front and fill out a bunch of paperwork” (opportunity 5: make it easy for customers, especially in a service-recovery situation like this). Nice assist. I’m always amazed that so many people and companies miss this last point: you have to make it easy for customers to do business with you. Customers have many options today, they are spending less, and they have less patience for poor service. If you don’t make it easy, they have choices, and they will exercise them. If they like the “other guy”, you may never see them again.
So, what may have seemed a simple store visit turned into a disaster, with at least five missed opportunities to provide a good customer experience. Doing something for the customer during any one of these may have turned this situation around. Handling all five with grace may have resulted in a great customer experience. Customers are usually reasonable, but this many missed opportunities in one visit will absolutely cause them to take their business elsewhere. The lesson here is: there are many opportunities for great customer experiences every day, every visit; take full advantage of each of them.