The quality of the customer service your business provides is absolutely essential to the growth of your operations. If your desire is to retain and grow your customer base, do so by instilling confidence in them through exceptional customer service experiences.
Just this week I had an experience that clearly illustrates paltry customer service. I returned to a local men’s store to pick up two sport coats that had been fitted, and to exchange a pair of dress shoes that were the wrong size. I went in with receipts in-hand, excited to receive my items and conclude my business with them.
As I walked in the store, it was apparent that the manager who “greeted” me had quickly sized me up, and concluded from my casual dress that I did not represent much value to him. His enthusiasm was nonexistent, and it was obvious he did not care about me.
I explained to him why I was there, and he returned with my sport coats. The attached tags indicated that a fee for tailoring still needed to be paid, and he let me know this with an accusatory tone. After showing him my receipts — which proved prepayment for the service — he offered no apology for his negative attitude toward me. As he continued looking through the receipts, two of them fell to the floor. He made no attempt to pick them up, and when I did, he did not move aside to make room for me, nor did he apologize for dropping them.
I was instructed to try on the jackets for fit while he retrieved the correct sized shoes. While the jackets had been altered correctly, they were covered in loose threads, chalk marks and lint. When he returned, I asked if it was their store policy to return items to customers in this condition. Without thought or concern, he simply took them from me and said he would have them cleaned up.
I tried on the new shoes he brought out and they were too small. Only then did he indicate that they were a half size smaller than what I’d requested. I was then informed that the correct size would have to be special ordered, and that due to an inventory restriction, I would not have them for another 10-14 days. He told me all of this without concern for what my needs were. I agreed to have them ordered and, as he took my jackets away for cleaning, I looked at the shoes on display … sitting there was the size I had asked for.
Upon his return, with jackets that were barely cleaned or attended to, I shared with him my discovery and asked to take the shoes I had found. At this point, two things were clear: I was the one who had done all the work to find a solution to the situation we were dealing with, not he; and, little care had been taken to really do a good job at cleaning my coats. Due to the exceptionally low quality of customer service I had received, I simply wanted to finish my business and leave.
At the checkout counter, he provided me with his business card and — “in consideration for my inconvenience” — offered a 20% discount on my next purchase of a full-priced suit. On the surface this seemed like a caring offer, but in reality it was merely an appeasing gesture. Their sale prices are already a significantly better deal than this, and I was not interested in suits, something he hadn’t bothered to ask.
The up-side to my experience is that, when I contacted the corporate customer service division, I was treated with the utmost regard. They thanked me for notifying them of my experience, assured me that this situation would be addressed with the manager, and provided me with compensation to correct my negative experience. They communicated that I was a valued customer and worked toward a meaningful resolution. The company’s genuine interest and care for me renewed my confidence in them, and therefore, I am likely to do business with them again.
The lesson here is to never give a customer reason to doubt you. Paltry customer service that leaves the patron of any business feeling unimportant and devalued will hurt your company in more ways than you can imagine. Conversely, when your customer service comes from the grateful hearts and caring minds of you, and your entire team, the benefits to your business are tremendous.