Have you ever walked into a store and not been greeted by an employee? I was born and raised in NYC. Walking into a store and not being greeted by an employee or not being able to find an employee to help you locate an item was the norm to me.
The lack of customer service became so routine to me that when I moved to Charlotte, I was annoyed every time I entered a store. So annoyed I would send my husband shopping so that I would not have to interact with store employees. In addition to the abundant ‘welcome’s’ and ‘may I help you with anything’ the part I wished to avoid the most it checking out. While at the check-out no matter what lane or store it was the same thing, ‘how are you today, ma’am?’ followed by an extensive conversation about nothingness ranging from commentary about the weather to questions regarding the items I purchased or stories about their family members.
I had to evaluate where did the problem lie. Were the store employees that annoying. While a small percentage of that may be true but it could not be the case when for every store; I had to look within and discover something very surprising. It took a long time for me to realize how jaded New York City has made me. I was conditioned by the rudeness and self-centered attitude customs of a New Yorker. I needed to break this negative influence very quickly, especially if I was going to be a long-time resident of Charlotte.
I began to look at customer service from a new perspective. In conjunction with the need to change my outlook, I also needed this change if I were to become an entrepreneur who will need to provide nothing less that superior customer service. I needed to evaluate the experience of customer service from the perspective of both the provider and the recipient. What I was accustomed to, was in reality, not acceptable.
I took the time to evaluate customer service from the perspective of the customer as well as the employee. Recently, I recorded my customer service experiences over the course of this past summer. My decision to do such was two-fold; one, to strip myself of all negative notions of ‘annoying customer service’ and two, to establish the type of customer service I want to develop and implement within my business.
If I am walking into an establishment of which I plan to become a patron, I expect to be acknowledged and respected. I would like to feel comfortable and confident that my money is being spent in an establishment that recognizes my contribution. Greeting me upon entry is not annoy it assists in removing any apprehensions I, as the customer, may have; especially if I plan on making a significant purchase. Also, statistics have shown that consumers tend to spend more money when they feel relaxed and comfortable.
Having an employee ask a customer if assistance is needed before they have to seek help reinforces customer acknowledgement which increases the level of comfort and relaxation. Having an employee within reach at all times is beneficial to the customer because it decreases moments of anxiety or frustration when a question or concern cannot be immediately addressed. The average person level of interest is a very short span, and once a person has to seek assistance, interest is evaluated and most often lost.
It is easy to underestimate the value and significance customer service can bring. Excellent customer service can increase sales for business while subpar customer service can run a business into closing its doors permanently. It is up to the business owner to find a working balance between providing first-rate customer service without compromising the integrity of the establishment as well as the employees.
As an entrepreneur, making sure the customer is always satisfied is a tough task and contrary to popular belief the customer cannot always ‘be right.’ Is it fair or even moral for a business owner to ignore the significance of its employees to provide gratification to a customer, especially if the gratification requesting is undeserving? I like to adhere to the ideology that the customer is not always right, but they are deserving of making sure they receive the right level of customer service.
My observations have led me to establish a new outlook on customer service. I am no longer annoyed when I am greeted or asked if I need assistance. I do find myself offended when I encounter establishments that do not provide welcoming and helpful customer service.