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Monday, October 15, 2012

Customer service

Just recently I went into a small store. The floor space was setup in a rectangle with a long glass counter on one side. The business’s main products were displayed in the glass counter. I could see one employee moving about the floor and four behind the counter.  One was working with another customer. The rest were talking to each other. I stood at the counter not really looking at the products but politely waiting to be helped. Across from me, two employees were talking and eventually moved their conversation farther down the counter. After several minutes of not being addressed I considered leaving but decided to time how long it would take to be approached. From the moment I started timing, until I was addressed, was four minutes. Which doesn’t sound long, but it is when you are waiting to be helped. This is not the first time I’ve experienced this sort of customer indifference. It is more shocking when you are in a smaller store when the employees outnumber the customers.

How about a bigger store where the employees have desks or stations in plain view of the customers? These stores give the appearance of their attention to customer service but the employees may not get it. You know the kind, the customer service counters with no walls and lots of brightly color shirted employees walking around looking like they are busy. As the wait continues, you start to notice that there is one employee servicing the line, one making copies, two speaking to each other, one on the telephone, and another coming in and out of several doors like they are in some sort of maze. The whole time you’re standing there wondering if you are in fact invisible. Nothing looks worse to customers and adds to their displeasure than seeing unmanned stations with what appears to be plenty of help ignoring the situation. If the employees are in view of the customer they need to be attentive to the customers. 

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