By Jim Whitt
Sondra and I had interesting customer service experiences in two different stores on the same day. We walked into one and were greeted by a clerk who asked the perfunctory, “How are you?” “Great,” I responded. “How about you?” I liked her comeback, “I’m glad to be here.” I went through the same routine with a clerk in the next store who responded, “Not bad for a Monday.” I wonder — would she be any better on Tuesday? I doubt it. Who would you rather do business with? You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Those first impressions colored what I thought about these clerks and the businesses each represented. Who would you hire to represent you?
One morning we walked into a fast food restaurant and heard a loud, disembodied voice saying, “Welcome to McDonald’s, can I help you?” Although we hadn’t walked up to the counter, we lowered our gazes from the menu high up on the wall to the young man standing behind the counter with his back to us. Since he hadn’t once turned to look at us, at least that we’d seen, we didn’t answer him. But apparently this is where the voice was coming from because, when he received no response from us, he finally glanced over his shoulder and asked, “What can I get for you?” This isn’t an unusual customer service occurrence. Many times the person who is supposed to be offering help makes no eye contact, mumbles something incoherent, or yells some pre-programmed welcome while doing something else. This type of behavior violates basic common sense. But we’ve noticed common sense is in short supply nowadays.
We’re shocked at how clueless store clerks and personnel in restaurants can be about basic common sense and courtesy. Simple things like saying please, thank you, yes sir, no ma’am and one of my all time major irritants is when you ask your waiter for something or thank them for something and the response is, “No problem.” Of course it’s not a problem — it’s your job! How about responding with, “It’s my pleasure,” or “You’re welcome.”
It’s experiences like this that gave us an inspired idea — a Common Sense Customer Service skills course so businesses can send their newly hired teenagers (or anyone else) for one hour to teach them to say please and thank you, to make eye contact and smile and to act like they like the customer. After all, customers are the reason they receive a paycheck.
I think we’ll have plenty of case studies to use in our Common Sense Customer Service skills course. Unfortunately most would be like the ones I’ve just related. But every now and then there’s a ray of hope — like the waiter we had at the Cosmo Café. His name is Hosea. Hosea provided us with a great example of Common Sense Customer Service. Sondra and I wanted to split the goulash and I made that request. I liked Hosea’s answer, “I can make that happen, sir.” What a great response! I can make that happen!
Do you want to be waited on by someone who’s “not bad for a Monday” or someone who “can make it happen?” You don’t have to think about it — it’s common sense. But apparently common sense is a subject that needs to be taught. Maybe you can help us. We need more case studies. If you’d like to contribute log onto our blog at https://www.purposeunlimited.com and tell us about your good, bad and yes, even ugly customer service experiences. And don’t forget to stop in at the Cosmo Café and ask for Hosea. Take a look at the menu and place your order. He’ll make it happen.