A sloppily dressed sales associate for a well-known retailer caught my eye the other day. His appearance reminded me that no matter how sharp the training or attractive the “uniform”, there always will be somebody who either doesn’t get the message or doesn’t care enough if he did get the message. Same for the lackluster soul who answers the company phone as if the woes of the world were on her.
All of which reminds me of Robin, whom I’ve mentioned here before. Robin fielded a client’s phone calls for many years and greeted people coming in the door -- she was a “receptionist” in the most positive sense of the word. If Robin ever had a down day, I couldn’t tell. It was always a pleasure to hear her bright, professional voice. She put a wonderful face on her company every time she answered the phone or greeted a visitor and could be counted on to make that happen day after day.
Why don’t more people get that message – whether their task is answering the phone or taking care of customers at point of sale or service? I once heard a statistic that claimed for every customer turned off during the sales or service experience, six more never show up. That’s probably conservative.
How many travelers will think twice about booking with US Airways after hearing about the flight attendant who refused to hang up a serviceman’s jacket a few days ago? “She kept saying it was against company policy” to put it in the closet because that was for first class passengers, the soldier told WSOC-TV in Charlotte, N.C., the flight’s destination.
The attendant also had “an angry type of attitude,” claimed another passenger.
So maybe her back hurt after a long flight from Portland. Or some personal issue was grinding her down. No matter. Her job was to take care of her passengers for the four-to-five-hour flight, not ride the rules high horse to the point of aggravation. Common sense and good judgment also have a place in company procedure. It’s called “customer service.”
US Airways will survive the incident. As will Southwest Airlines survive their recent incident, where an A-List passenger was not allowed to board early because he had his two children in tow. You may recall the guy: he was so disgruntled by a rude gate agent that he Tweeted about his experience after they finally boarded the plane. The situation blew up further when the gate agent read the Tweet and had the family taken off. They eventually continued their flight, but it wasn’t long before the story got out nationwide.
How difficult is it to “get” the idea that the things you say – and the way you say it – have the power to make or break customer relationships? Could it be that some people really don’t give a hoot about customers – can’t think or act beyond themselves?
Earlier this year, I wrote in this space about my disappointing Best Buy shopping experience. (http://tinyurl.com/nywuxcx) Last week I tried again. This time, there was a different guy manning the camera department. The store wasn’t busy (a mid-week afternoon), but he clearly couldn't have cared less about my needs. To say he had a crappy attitude would be kind.
I read all the time that jobs are hard to come by. So when you do get one, why sabotage it (and your employer’s image) with a sloppy look or a lackadaisical manner?
I have worked retail – and enjoyed it. The part I liked best was matching customers to product. Sure I had off days, but you have to stow it not show it. Maybe the young woman at the Oreck store I wrote about last February was having a tough day – maybe not. It didn’t matter, because she won me over. Likewise the helpful young man at Kohl’s that same day. (http://preview.tinyurl.com/knp27z3)
But now that I’m thinking about a trip to Portland, will US Airways be first on my list? Probably not. Will I finally give in and call Time Warner Cable about the wire that’s still dangling through my bushes instead of being buried in my yard like they promised to make happen a long time ago? (http://tinyurl.com/nywuxcx)
Probably not, because it’s just so totally aggravating talking to them! They don’t follow through -- and the birds so enjoy perching on the wire.
Now if I could only call Robin about that blasted cable. She’d get something done – and fast!
Content Copyright by Brian E. Faulkner