A couple of weeks ago, during one of the classes of The Action Suite, one of my clients went off on a rant about something which happened to her a week or so earlier. What happened to her has been happing more and more today and with competition, be it from other businesses, or the one competitor which effects everyone, the internet; have businesses forgotten what ‘customer service’ is?
She had walked into a Starbucks and was the only person in line with three people working behind the counter. No one acknowledged her. No one addressed her even with a: “I will be with you in just a second.” One made direct eye contact with her and did not even nod to acknowledge her presence. Finally, many minutes later, someone came to help her. She let her feelings be known in no uncertain terms and left the store without purchasing anything.
As for competition here, the internet is not going to be able to provide her with a hot cup of coffee which she wanted. However, Tim Horton’s, less than a block away, could and did.
You may be thinking: “Big deal. It’s only a cup of coffee.” However, think of this, a week or so later it is still steaming her and she is sharing her experience about the service at Starbuck’s. How many cups of coffee has it cost them? Here I am telling everyone who reads my blog about the incident, how many more cups of coffee are going to be going unsold at Starbuck’s. This is not an attack on Starbuck’s, I go there often myself, but in customer service as a whole.
You may have a favorite Starbuck’s. You may now look at the level of service your own Starbuck’s is giving and be more inclined to let them know, or even go down the street to get your coffee.
What I have realized is consumers do not mind waiting because retailers are helping others, however, they loathe being ignored. They detest when service providers take them for granted as in: “They came in and need me. I’m just going to do this first and then get to them.”
Think back a few weeks. How many times were you ignored when you went into a place of business? How did it make you feel? How do you think your clients and prospects feel when you do it? Have I got your attention now?
I have a favorite clothes retailer. They are certainly not the cheapest, but they are also not the most expensive. Could I get the same quality and fabrics at a lower cost? Absolutely! However, what they do is make me feel I matter. As soon as I walk in the closest person will state: “Good day, sir! Welcome to our store.”, even if they are helping someone else. If they are with someone else, they will state: “I, or another associate, will be with you shortly.”
I have now been acknowledged and I have the anticipation service will be arriving soon. Even if soon turns to ten minutes, I know it’s coming and I can continue to browse until it arrives as I know they know I am here. By the way, the more one browses, the more one tends to buy. Myself included.
One of the greatest examples of this and why they should be commended for doing this, believe it or not, is Walmart. The greeter is there to make sure everyone has been acknowledged for coming in: “Welcome to Walmart.” Automatically makes you feel more important because someone has acknowledged you to their place of business.
The first step in any type of relationship is acknowledging there is another party.