Sunday, July 02, 2006

What was that you said? - Customer Service

"What was that you said" she asked as she looked up from the register with her hand phone apparently glued to the side of her head.

“I said hello!” as I replied to her question.

She smiled and answered, "What did you say? I can't really hear you”

Then I asked a little bit louder, "Can you help me find..." and before I could finish she blurted out in a rather rude sound,

"Wait a minute it's to noisy",

"Are you talking to me?” I somewhat apologetically asked. Then as the somewhat fleeting smile disappeared; she stood up and walked away without even looking in my direction to talk on her hand phone in another part of the store.

I stood there somewhat bemused by the incident and for the lack of service. As I looked around the store I found my self standing alone and a mouth with a half formed question. A simple question that would have just asked, "could you help me please?”, but there I stood waiting half frustrated because of the clerk’s lacking sensitivity and half chuckling because of the so predictable behavior. "What to do?” I asked myself.

And then there it was, a noise, hidden behind some boxes and files. I heard it before, but I wasn't exactly paying attention after the clerk had rudely left me standing. Hoping that it was human, after all I was in a computer store, I peeped around a corner to find two men in conversation. One was on his knees putting something in a window display and the other sitting on a box containing a computer printer, both in full conversation about something to do with the night before.

There I stood in full view waiting, hoping, and wishing that someone would notice me without my begging for some attention. Attention that was rightfully mine to have. I mean after all it was my money that I wanted to spend in their store, right?

Finally, with a loud noise I cleared my throat, and if startled into a new world the two stopped and looked in my direction. “What do I do to get some help?” I politely asked.

They quickly looked at each other and then the one on the box silently, as if by some pre-arranged signal, left to go do something else while the other continuing on with the window display said, "I'll be with you in a moment".

I stood there for what seemed like forever wondering why the window display was so much more important than I was. After all I'm the customer, right? maybe I should have worn a bright T-shirt with vivid lettering that said,”I’m a Customer don’t ignore me”.

Finally after what was actually only about five minutes he stood up, turned, smiled and apologized with a very short “I’m sorry I took so long?”. There he was standing in front of me with his white managers tag pinned to his shirt as if in testimonial to his leadership and dedication.

Then the manager said, "Yes, can I help you now",

“Hmmm, the damage was already done”, I thought. After that my question seemed somewhat mute and its urgency somewhat less important. After all what was the purpose of my being there when they clearly really didn't care about what I wanted anyway. “There are other stores who sell computer accessories”, I told myself.

I just said, "never mind, I forgot what I came in here for". Then I smiled and walked out of the store.

This really happened and I didn't really know how to put it to you other than in the way it took place.

Most of you who will read this post will do exactly the same thing as that clerk did or manager did sometime today or tomorrow and it's a shame that this has to be the reflection of who we are and the value that we put on our customers, but it is.

Your comments are welcome as always and we invite your replies.

If you would like to learn more on customer service you might want to visit the
Customer Always blog written by Maria Palma or you may wish to read articles and research on customer service and customer experience management at "The Customer Development Center.


Maria Palma said...

Nothing seems to surprise me anymore when it comes to businesses who fail to realize the importance of customers. The story you relayed has happened to me numerous times. However, the next time it happens I will refuse to give them my money. I applaud your action to leave the store ;)

Meikah Delid said...

Yeah, that was a terrible experience! I wonder when these businesses get the message. What with all the customer service books claiming it will differentiate you and give you the edge, still they don't listen. Like Maria, I applaud your action to leave the store, and I love your repartee: "never mind, I forgot what I came in here for." I hope that manager got the message!

Glenn said...

Don't let them get away with this, Tim. I'd go to their Web site and send an e-mail through their customer service link. I'd be specific as to time and date and name names if I could.

If they have no easy contact through their Web site, I'd write a business letter to their CEO.

I would do exactly the same thing if I had received legendary customer service.

Stamp out lousy customer service! Reward legendary customer service!