March 23, 2010

Are Your Employees Prepared to Deliver Great Customer Service?

Recently, I went shopping for a new clock. I started my search at a local mall-based electronics store. As I entered the store I noticed it was empty. And yet, a voice welcomed me. I looked around and saw no one. I walked to where I thought the clocks were and it occurred to me each time I visited this store, things were never in the same place. Continuing my search, I noticed some digital converters. I checked them out for future reference, and continued looking for the clocks. I found them on the opposite side of the store but none matched my needs. I decided to ask for help. I called out and a young guy appeared from the back. Here is our exchange.

ME: “Do you have any other clocks besides what’s out?” HIM: “No, all we have is on the shelf.” ME: Do you know if the ones on the shelf have this feature?” HIM: “No, but if you look on the box it should say.” ME: “Okay, well you used to have clocks with this feature. Do you still carry any like that? Maybe in the back or online?” HIM: "All we have is what’s there on the shelf.”

Okay, this is going nowhere. Let me ask my other question about the converter.

ME: Okay, I see that you now carry digital converters. Do you know if they have this feature?” HIM: “Whatever it says on the box.” ME: “Well, I read the box and it doesn’t say. HIM: “Well that’s all I know.” ME: “Is there anyone else here who might know?” At this point he turned and shouted across the store to another guy who had appeared in the back. HIM: ”Do you know if this item has this feature?” Other guy: “What ever it says on the box is all I know.”

Well, now I am totally frustrated. I missed lunch for this. I thanked them and left the store.

Does this exchange sound familiar? Does this resemble your business? Is customer service at the head of your list of attributes? Are your people trained on all your products? Do they have easy access to answers to common questions?

If these questions sound familiar, here are three things you can do.

1) Make sure customer service is not just a line on your wall. Let your employees know specifically what it means to your company and how they can meet the standards. For example, always greet customers personally when they enter your place of business. Let them know you are there to help.

2) Make sure your employee training program covers both customer service behaviors and extensive product knowledge. Your training should go beyond the box and marketing material sent with merchandise.

3) Make sure you provide a way for your people to get quick answers to questions. For example, work with your suppliers to get FAQ sheets, or other material that you can place in easily accessible areas. If your location is connected to the internet, have some supplier sites set up as bookmarks.

If you have some thoughts on how to insure your people are prepared to help customers make purchases, leave your comments below.

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