A Customer Service Tale

How to Lose a Customer

I went shopping at a local well-known department store recently, a store where I usually enjoy the shopping experience. This time, however, I went away with a different impression and the thought that I might not do much shopping there in the future.

What changed my mind? It was poor customer service. I’m usually a pretty patient person, but this time my patience took a nosedive!

When I first entered the store, I noticed that there were very few employees on the floor—rather odd, since it was mid-day. Without help, I searched around the department of my choice and finally found what I was looking for.  With product in hand, I started searching for an available clerk at any open customer service check-out station. Most stations were vacant, but I managed to find one that was open far from where I found the product. 

After waiting in line for quite a while and with credit card in hand, I got to the customer service clerk. The clerk started to ring up the order, when another customer (not in line) interrupted to ask where something was. The clerk, without an apology and with my credit card in her hand, left the station to take the customer a long distance away to show where the product was. She did not return for what seemed like ages.

When she did return, she just rang up the sale as if there had been no interruption at all. I was fuming! She may have been helpful to the other person, but she was rude to me. It would have been more appropriate for her to tell the other customer that she would need to get in line for service, or at least excuse herself to me and leave my credit card with me before she left the station.

Good customer service demands that you show consideration for the other person—treat others as you would like to be treated. It can mean the difference between keeping and losing a good customer!

As a responsible retailer perhaps you should counsel your clerks on good ettiquette.  Encourage them to think before they act and to ask themselves "what would I expect if I was this customer?"

You can learn for customer feedback.  This can be one of your most powerful weapons.  If you do not have something in place for this, consider adding a URL reference on your receipts.  We can help you add this.  Consider asking for email addresses from your customers so you can request feedback.  Your CounterPoint system can store these and help you send automatic feedback mail.

One large retailer who does this (although not brick-and-mortor) is Amazon.  It has helped them grow their operations to a dominant position.  It is just as,  maybe even more, appropriate for brick-and-mortor retailers.


Leave a Reply