Have you ever heard this question when you’re out shopping, “Did you find everything you were looking for?”
Most of the time you probably don’t think anything of it and automatically answer, “yes.” I know that’s how I usually reply.
Now, what would you expect the employee to say or do if your answer was, “No?”
I would expect them to ask me what it was I was looking for and then help me find it or if they can’t leave the register, ask someone else to help me find it. That’s reasonable isn’t it?
Amazingly that’s not always what happens. There were two separate incidents I recently heard about that centered around that very common question.
In one case the customer answered in the negative and the cashier didn’t even acknowledge that fact. She simply went ahead and rang up the purchase, business as usual.
In another there was a second employee near the register when the cashier the question and the customer responded that she didn’t find what she was looking for, the cashier simply said, “oh” and attempted to start ringing up the items the customer had. The second employee jumped in and asked what the customer didn’t find and went to try to locate the item. That employee returned with the manager who explained that the item the customer wanted was a seasonal item and they would be out of stock until next year. Though the customer didn’t get the item she was looking for she was quite happy with the service given.
These to examples illustrate some very important things about customer service. The main one is that mouthing some question because some training manual says to do so isn’t service. Some employee robotically asking a question they don’t really want an answer to tells the customer that what they have to say doesn’t actually matter to that employee and, by extension, to that business. That’s the worst kind of service.
Great customer service starts with caring about each and every customer you contact. This alone would prevent the very poor service that occurred in the first example.
The next vital ingredient is effective communication. Make sure you completely understand and acknowledge the customer’s issue.
Finally employees have to be empowered to address the customer’s concerns or they have to be able to smoothly hand the customer off to someone who can. This may be a little more complicated than it sounds. A cashier who has 5 people in line can’t exactly leave the cash register to find something for a customer while everybody else is made to wait. That cashier must be able to summon someone over who will help that customer while the cashier continues to help the people in line.
The health of a business depends on delivering excellent service. Failures in customer service can cost a business customers and inhibit efforts to procure new ones.