Customer Service – not a job task, it’s a mindset!

I was running late trying to rush to the mall to purchase a couple of pairs of jeans for my boys. I hate going to the mall when I don’t have a lot of time to shop and look around. It’s also never a good idea when I have two very hungry and tired little boys with me. Needless to say I was already working at a disadvantage before I even walked in. Now, I don’t go to this store often (won’t say any names) because their product is amazing, wears well, or even because I feel valued as a customer. I only go to this store because I like the way this one style of jeans fits my boys. I have NEVER had a good experience in this store and the jeans do not hold up to the rough and tough tumbles little boys can put them through, so I only get them for church or casual events.

As I was walking in the store I noticed a HUGH sign out side the store door that reads ” ALL BASIC DENIM JEANS $7.99.” I had gone online the night before and the discount there would have made them $6.99 each, but due to time constraints I needed to go into the store (lucky me!). I walk in, right to the wall shelf, and picked up only one of the pairs of jeans. I would have gotten more, but they only had one size I needed. I walked up to the counter and quickly noticed I am interrupting a very important conversation between the two employees about last nights drama. One of the employees greeted me, and please know I am the only customer in the store at this time, and said “Yeah?” I asked her if she had anymore size 7 jeans in this style in the back. She said “Ughhonknow”, please hear this as a one syllable word. Eventually she left after a very awkward staring contest and returned with a pair of size 7 jeans. It’s my lucky day again! She rang up my order and that is when I noticed that one pair of jeans were ringing up for $12.99. I stopped her and asked about the price and the very large sign where it clearly states that ALL BASIC DENIM was on sale for $7.99. She said not this pair, that’s for the other sizes. Really? I said will you honor your sign due to it not being a style issue, basic denim, just a size issue? She said no and I asked why and I was given the exact same one syllable word “Ughhonknow”, which still included the annoying head roll. I said “Is the Ughhnoknow” because you can’t honor the sign or that you don’t know if the store will allow you to honor the price?” She said it was due to not knowing if the store would allow her to honor the price. Well to stop the suspense – I didn’t get the jeans for the $7.99 as advertised, which is exactly what I expected due to past experience with customer service from this store.

I hate shopping in that store, and even more, spending my hard earned money there. If I didn’t feel like I needed the product that they produce I would definitely go somewhere else, and that is where they get me. I don’t really need this product, but I want it. In my professional career I manage an area that is built on quality customer service. As a manager, the expectation is that you will provide great customer service at all times. This is not a job task, but rather a mindset. Think like a customer, which is super easy to do as we are all customers and have many experiences to cultivate this mindset.

Customer service is vital to every organization even ones that don’t really categorize themselves as front-line customer service. The way you treat your customer communicates how you value them, their time , and their money. When teaching my staff about the importance of providing great customer service we also talk about the importance of being a great customer. I have my staff talk about positive and negative experiences they have had as a customer and employee. The first thing I realize is that the negative experiences are numerous and positive experiences are few. I’m not sure if that was due the lack of positive experiences, which I strongly hope not, or that negative experiences have more of a lasting impression. Customer service is not just providing a great product, it’s being knowledgeable, having good communication skills, being honest, and being present while at work.

I think one major question we need to ask ourselves is: Why wouldn’t we give great customer service? Is it too time consuming, too draining, are you tired of dealing with people, maybe you don’t know how, or is it that great customer service comes with unrealistic expectations from the customer? All of these are valid feelings, at times. However, if we go back to the fact that we are all customers and we know what our expectations are, then this should be what drives us when providing great customer service to others. It is a Mindset!

Love to hear about some of your customer service experiences!

-J

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