A Little Effort Goes A Long Way.

>> Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I don't want to come across as a grumpy-guts, but I hate having to go to the supermarket. I don't like how they're always cold when you step in, I find it ironic that they sell you cigarettes right by the front door yet make you walk all the way to the back to pick up your medicine, and I dislike how they compare the prices of two very similar things using different measurements, where they say "this one is £1.50 per 100g" and "that one is £14 per Kilo". Really? Is it truly that hard to get some kind of consistency? C'mon, this isn't politics so don't try and deceive us.

Anyway, I'm going around the supermarket, looking out for one of those shallow trolleys because there are none outside. You pick up your shopping, bung it in the trolley (that you've resorted to picking up in the isle and hope that it is not someone else's) and when you're done, where do you head: the self-service isle. It's not because it's quicker than a normal checkout (apparently you need ID to buy Red  Bull, which involves standing around for eleventy million years while a till person runs up to confirm that, yes, you're not five) but because it involves not having to be greeted with a "huuuui" followed by "you wanna bag wiv vat mayt'?" In fact, I was asked by a till assistant the other day if a parsnip was, in fact, a parsnip. Suffice to say I resisted the massive urge in me to convince him, with a "duh!" look, that it was actually a laptop. After this little event, you walk out, load up the car and drive out, making sure you don't hit the mass of trolleys that have congregated around those little plastic shelters that live in the middle of the car park.

This is my experience of supermarkets, and no doubt the experience of other people. Before anyone jumps down my throat, I am aware that there are probably many people who are hard working in supermarkets and do their best, however Lady Luck and I had an argument a few months ago, and I seemingly only ever turn up to shop when these people are on their lunch-breaks. Now, the problem isn't that I had what I would refer to as a "bad customer service experience", but that if many people went through this, they wouldn't bat an eyelid! We seemingly really don't care if the staff are slovenly, as this has become a benchmark for us. How sad. It's also an interesting reflection on society that when someone decides "enough" and complains, people tend to look at them as rude or a busybody, unless they bought some food that had gone off and are complaining about how dead they are. We've all fallen into the belief that mediocre customer service is actually a case of "that'll do".

Still, ever the optimist, I like to see an opportunity in everything, and it's all about what I shall call "relative expectancy". Basically, if everyone is used to bad service, then giving service that is "reasonably good" will be considered "very good", and "very good" will be called "absobloodylutely amazing". One of the senior PR Execs in Ultimedia Towers bought an electric golf buggy (I know, I know) from a company called Go Kart, where the battery is slowly dying. He is having to actually push it along (bless 'im). He called the company to explain the problem to them and, rather than try to fob him off or confuse him by speaking in tongues, they simply agreed that the individual battery must be faulty and agreed to replace it with one that worked. They asked if Friday was ok to drop it off (it's Wednesday today) and apologised for the hassle. How nice was that? Compared to a well known McLaren-related mobile phone company that gave me a faulty broadband dongle-thingy. Rather than acknowledge that it was faulty when I showed them evidence of it overcharging me, they simply pointed out that me being wrong didn't fall in to the category of "utterly impossible" and so decided I must be telling porkies. Suffice to say, carrier pigeon is currently preferable to using them again.

Just remember that even if your presentation and service is below average, your customers may not notice. This may be a good thing for you until they notice your competitors are giving them great service, then they will realise that they are being let down. Therefore, start the trend: make the office presentable, greet people with a smile (as all of your staff should do) and treat them exactly how you would want to be treated, not just in a matter that is superficially good for the profit-loss sheets.

That way, you'll be known as "the company with the good customer service", and everyone else will be known as "that company that wishes they were you".

Images courtesy of / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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