Defining Customer Service can truly be a difficult task. It’s akin to searching for the Holy Grail chiefly because everyone has their own definitions. It’s interesting to note that the same people who devise many of the customer service protocols in use today would not themselves tolerate what they inflict on their customers. Good customer service leaves the customer feeling that their business is appreciated and the experience was comfortable and not stressful.
To some, good customer service is being able to walk into a store without being attacked by an overeager salesclerk the minute they cross the threshold. To others, it’s as simple as being thanked for their business upon completing a transaction. Even though theories abound and books written, providing good customer service is more based on common sense than anything else, especially when you consider most of us define good customer service in a similar manner. Treating people the same way you would like to be treated, is generally all that is required for a customer to feel comfortable in dealing with your company. Where so many companies fail is that they confuse customer service with the sales process.
Customer service is about balance. It’s about paying attention to the customers’ movements and body language. Using retail as an example, when someone is rooting through a pile of pants, chances are they’re looking for a specific size, this would be a good time to lend a hand but without launching into a full blown sales close. To me the goodwill generated by the lending a hand is quickly destroyed when the sales pitch or up sell begins.
Or how about the sales clerk that just cruises the aisle looking for their next victim, like a tow truck driver cruising the expressway at rush hour. This practice annoys many people to the point that they really don’t want to look the least bit interested in anything for dread of having to deal with this person and in many instances end up leaving without making a purchase.
The overeager sales clerk mentioned above was probably told to make sure they greet every person who walks into the store and ask them if they need any help. Occasionally, the offer is honest and the person genuinely wants to assist you. But more often than not you get the feeling that there is a lack of sincerity in the offer and they’re just doing what they were told.
Where this practice fails is that it takes people a few moments to orient themselves once they enter a store. This is referred to as the “Landing Area” and people need the area to focus. Being greeted or attacked the minute you hit the store is really a waste of effort and usually quite annoying, especially when you consider it has happened 5 times in the last 6 stores you were in. This is one of those common sense situations. Take a moment and think about how you go about shopping. We’re not talking about going to the convenience store for milk, but more of the casual let see if something jumps out at me situation in your local mall. Those times when you’re just cruising and you have no set agenda. Do you want to be confronted with “Can I help you find something?” Most people answer with ”No, just looking” because that’s just what they’re doing and they don’t want to deal with the potential pressure of an overzealous sales clerk. What did that exchange accomplish other than to put the customer on the defensive? Now is that something we should be doing to our customers?
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Copyright © Greg Weatherdon 2012
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