Customer No-Service

Apathetic person.While out this afternoon I was exposed to this apathetic mentality once again–customer no-service. If you’ve read many of my posts you know that I am passionate about developing good business processes. But, do not confuse process over people.

People First
Without people there would be no business, no salaries, no companies, no workers, nada — nothing. Most organizations provide services in one fashion or another: cable, phone, sanitation, yard care, cleaning, food, pet care, automotive, and the list goes on. Yet how many of these companies see the people that frequent them as the reason for their existing?

If you knew you were about to go out of business because you had just a few customers what would you do? First, you’d bend over backward to make sure the customers you had were satisfied and given excellent service. Second, you’d make sure to hire employees that shared that mindset. Third, you’d build your reputation on both of these. Take a look at Chick-fil-A, for instance. Here’s a company that knows the customer is first and that the quality of service they provide determines whether or not they stay in business. For Chick-fil-A, people come first!

Is there a next generation of employees out there that only want to make a paycheck so that they can go out clubbing and feed their entertainment appetite? I wonder, is technology partly to blame? Why learn to deal with a live person when you can virtually keep them at a distance? Certainly there are issues on both sides of the fence: companies that do not respect and value their employees and employees that could not give a rip about where they work, just as long as they have enough money for living the life they want.

Below are some examples of how I have watched this mentality of customer no-service play out. See if you too have experienced anything like these.

Example #1
While leaving Target today I thought I’d get a quick bag of pop-corn and soda (for $1 you cannot beat it). Unfortunately, there seemed to be only one employee working behind the food service counter. There were 2 other people in front of us, one buying a pretzel and drink and the other buying a hotdog and drink. There were 3 people behind us…waiting. I could have gone home and popped corn myself with as long as it took this person to serve us. Then, the manager comes out from the back with a new employee in training. Now, talk about an opportunity to show this new employee what customer first means. “Excuse me” the manager could have said, “let me help these people before we continue.” But, no, the manager ignored all the people in line plus their one representative at the counter in order to point out the finer aspects of hotdogs rolling slowly on the cooker. Then the manager took the trainee to the back again.

This was a prime picture of process over people.

Example #2
While at a United Artist movie theatre with friends, we decided to grab some snacks before the feature started. The theatre was crowded this particular night with patrons and employees. The lines at the snack bar were about 20 people deep. Why? Because there were only 2 of the 8 registers open and, to make matters worse, there were 5-6 employees milling around behind the counter doing nothing but kicking fallen cups and talking about who was dating who. Where was the manager? Possibly one of the ones milling around.

This was a prime picture of not hiring people with a service heart.

Example #3
I was picking up an order at Wolf Camera for me and a friend. I told the names to the attending employee and took a moment to glance at the new hardware by the register. After what should have been enough time to pull photos, I glanced up to see the employee at the wrong end of the alphabet. “Easy mistake,” I said to myself. The name was “Vaughn” and the employee must have thought I said “Bon”. I came back to the counter and said, “I’m sorry, but the name is ‘Vaughn’ with a ‘V'”. This person must have been having a bad year because they immediately rolled their eyes at me and walked in a huff toward the other end of the counter. They pulled out the proper photos and then handed the packet to a passing employee, motioned toward me, and said, “give these to him”. Now, I am the kind of person that usually rolls with the punches and gives people the benefit of the doubt, but this pushed my button. I asked the employee handing me the photos if I could see the manager. You should have seen how this person’s countenance changed! They became VERY attentive. When the manager came out I took the time to describe what had happened. I also reminded him that I was a long-time customer and that he was in the business of service. He understood and apologized, saying the person I had issues with had also been a problem in the past. He said he would speak to them.

Closing Thoughts
I hope that more service oriented organizations and companies get the message. Customer Service is not old fashion nor a thing of the past. There are some very popular, respected, and admired businesses that understand people come first and good processes come after.

Question: What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever experienced Customer No-Service? Comment and let me know.

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