Quality Customer Service

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I do a lot of talks and lectures and keynotes and one of my favourite topics is quality. Especially when it comes to customer service. It goes hand in hand with my passion for selling.

Well, here is a perfect example of what quality is, or in this case … isn't.
Quality is defined as "Conformance to requirements."

I was just out shopping at Sobeys. I like the place. The brand works for me. Nice enough experience – not Bruno's nor Whole Foods – but clean, good prices and selection plus, it meets "my requirements."

I went to the check out – two re-usable bags in tow, purchased $57 dollars of groceries. (Yes, I know you should be able to carry that out in one hand these days! … Sorry, je digress …)

There were two young girls at the check out. One doing the ringing in and the other packing.

The girl packing the bags asked if I wanted the bag of milk in the re-usable bag? I said, "Um … yeah, sure, thanks. I went one … Oh, and everything else in one bag as much as possible, thanks".

She started packing two bags equally.

I restated "Lets put everything in one bag – whatever won't fit in, just put it in the other."

She persisted packing the bags equally saying, "But the one bag will be too heavy!" 

Well, herein lies the problem. As I said jokingly before, $57 bucks worth of groceries – for me – is not heavy. And why I wanted the second bag almost empty was I was going to the LCBO next door for some wine and wanted to put the 3 or 4 bottles in the as-empty-as-possible second bag.

I started to re-arrange the packing job, and the young girl got a wee bit upset that I was doing this.
I explained what I wanted to do – showed her I could, even in my elderly, feeble state, lift said behemoth of a bag and thanked her for the help.

She was still pissed as I walked away – I think I heard her say something less than flattering to her cohort. Not a great brand experience. Nor how a service employee shoudl act.

You see, my requirements did not sit well in her lexicon of what packing should be. Fair enough. She was trying to be helpful. Good for her! But that is not quality customer service. Please, meet my requirements. In this case, they were not that weird. And in my mind and completely reasonable and, furthermore, necessary to get my bottles of 1981 Chateau du Plonk home with my groceries in one trip. Two bags, two hands. Coincidence? I think not! LOL

If you deal with clients … listen to them. If you do not understand a request … please ask.

If you are a manager, the best thing you can do with youngsters working for you is to tell them this story. Explain that "the customer is always right" and to listen to the customer no matter how weird the request is. If you dole out quality customer service the customer will reward you with repeat sales.

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