June 2003

Brian WelshPublisher's Notes
    An Opening View

Customer Service???

Most of you have probably figured out that I am pretty mild-mannered and it takes a lot to get me going. Well, the subject of customer service has got me going right now. I just experienced a striking example of customer service, or I should say “non-customer service,” in a big-box store.

It was a weekend, and I had entered the big box to get some supplies to get some work done around the house. I had a couple of questions, so I decided to go up to the counter and ask some questions about some products. A very polite, friendly gentleman with a “good morning” and a smile met me at the door.

As we began to hold a conversation, another employee walked up and started complaining to this person. It was like I wasn’t even there. Now, the original employee that I was talking with was doing his best to act like this other person didn’t even walk up to him, but he could only ignore him for so long.

We continued on with our conversation amid the background music of a disgruntled employee. He complained about his job and anything else he could think of, all the way down to the apron he had to wear for work. I could tell that the original employee with whom I had been speaking felt embarrassed. I did not get mad, but felt bad that the polite employee was going to have to work with this rotten egg for the rest of the day. 

Another great one that happens all of the time that just drives me nuts is standing in line to pay for something. Now, I am not talking about a line of three or four people, but lines that are 15-people long. Not only are you the 15th person in line, but the phone will ring at the counter and the clerk will decide to drop everything to make sure he picks up the phone by the second ring. I will never figure out why companies make present customers wait in line to hand them money. The best is when you’re at a sporting event and you wait in line to buy a beverage for an outrageous price and you wind up missing half the game. 

My point is that times are changing quickly. To close the sale, many companies promise the best customer service or go the extra mile for the customer to close the sale. Ultimately, the employees are being asked to do more with less. 

Are your employees on board with your strategy? If not, one rotten egg can certainly leave a bad taste in a customer’s mouth. Let the above just serve as a simple reminder that simple things go a long way. 

Make it a great day! 

Brian Welsh, publisher 


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