Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Customer Service is NOT Just a Department!

It is very important to know that… we Don’t know…what we Don’t know! This applies to everything from why someone may have cut us off on the highway, or why someone may be known as “the grumpy old man” , or what a person was doing just moments before returning an item.

WE don’t know..that perhaps the ‘rude’ person that cut you off in traffic, may be on their way to deliver a baby. The man that everyone refers to as grumpy, may be that way because he lived a very hard life, perhaps his pension fell through and he has to work as a crossing guard to pay his rent.. because he just lost his house. Or perhaps this elderly person had his drivers license taken away because his eyesight is failing, so every morning he rides his mobile cart across the bridge rain or shine.. just to get out of his house…or to go to the cemetery everyday without fail.. to visit his wife who passed away 15 years earlier.

My point with all of this is… our perspective makes all of the difference. When we see the entire picture and all of the events as a whole, our educated response will more often than not be completely different than it would have been when we only held partial information. With a different perspective, we would be able to show more compassion, love and understanding rather than rudeness and abruptness.

Saturday morning, my husband , a couple of our kids and I were at the retirement home in the city to visit his grandmother. She turned 90 in January and is holding on to this life until we are all ready to let her go. She was suffering from cardiac failure; she was still holding on. We visited for awhile even though she can no longer speak, we touched her hand, looked at pictures, sang to her and all held her probably for the last time. With tear stained checks we left about an hour later.

Since we were in the city, we went to a couple of stores to get ready for our son’s 5th birthday. While we were there, we brought some things back to the store for our sister in-law. The box was so heavy that my husband had to carry it in from the truck. We had the receipt, the cashier circled the items and rang it into the till. When she asked for the credit card that the items were purchased with.. we never had it, since the items were not bought by us… so I suggested applying it back onto the card (since they have the number on the receipt)..or store credit. The cashier called her supervisor to ask if that was alright.. she told her supervisor what was happening…and then she turned her back to us and whispered something in the phone. After hanging up the phone, she said…”we just can’t do it…it is store policy!”

Store Policy… what happened to the days where the customer is always right. When did corporations grow this amazing sense of entitlement? Without customers… there would be no corporation….so why are customers treated like cattle. The process of returning items is already inconvenient…now this time…it means that our sister in-law is going to have to make another hour long trip into the city..with her 2 – 5 year olds…and her 1 year old… while packing a box that is too heavy to carry… and start all over because she has the credit card that matches the receipt…all for $16.00.

Perhaps knowing that I was just visiting our dying grandmother may have made the difference .. in creating some compassion. Or knowing that we drove an hour to get to the city… or that my sister would be packing 3 little children after diving another hour to get to the store may have helped. Having retail management experience in my background, I know that there is always something that can be done to please a customer…. Because word of mouth is really everything, it is in the ‘stores’ best interest. How do you ever measure the implications of a person’s actions..or non-action. This $16.00 could cost the company the thousands and thousands of dollars that I would potential spend in this store over my lifetime… or perhaps the hundreds of thousands that my family might have spent… not to mention the millions of dollars of my readers.

Maybe this perspective would have made the difference. Perhaps looking past my glasses to see the tears that I held back for our Grandmother… What if..everyone that was in an industry of service..treated the customers like they had all come into the store after saying their last goodbye to someone they loved. What if..we ALL interacted with compassion, love and understanding?

Since we just don’t know, what we don’t know..what if we made “Customer Service” the attitude of gratitude… appreciation for the customers that come into our stores because without them… we would not have a job to begin with!

Most Humbly,
President..Stock Harmony

Stock Harmony ~ Bringing Integrity, Honesty & Communication in Business http://www.stockharmony.com/
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