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A Story for Customer Service Managers

Posted on August 11, 2011 by Arianna

As customer service supervisor, I am always focusing on my experiences with other company’s customer service and comparing them to how my team treats our customers. For the most part my experiences provide examples of how we can improve; however, the other day I went to a large shoe store to buy some shoes and my experience was less then stellar.  I had not been to this store in about four months, and unbeknownst to me, the stores sales representatives are now commission based. When I walked into the store, it took forever to try and find a representative to assist me in getting the size shoe I needed. When I finally was able to flag down a representative he brought me the shoes and then walked out of the shoe department. I later found out this was because he was going on his lunch. After trying on the shoes and finding a couple of outfits to wear them with, I decided to purchase them.

I went up to the counter and there was no one around. I waited patiently, might I add, but 5-10 minutes waiting was a bit long for me. As another representative came up to the counter to check on a price for her customer, I asked her if she could help me with purchasing the shoes. Now what I am about to say is verbatim – word for word her response was, “I am helping my customer and they are my priority right now, I’m sorry.” That was it. She continued checking stock and I was left speechless. No 'I'll get somone to help you", no “I’ll be with you in a moment”, nothing.  She could have showed me she was at least considering helping me, but she didn’t.  The words she used showed how unimportant my purchase was to her. The customer in line behind me, also needing help, immediately asked the young lady for a manager.

The manager came down and said that we needed to understand that they are commission based and so they need to help the customers they are currently working with. She did apologize for the way the representative explained it, but the deed was done.  I left the store without the pair of shoes and strolled right into the one next to it in the mall, also a commission based job. I can’t even tell you how much more I enjoyed the experience, but know this: I would rather pay more money to be treated as a worthy customer then pay less and have to force someone to help me.

Now, my experience may not be the norm for that shoe store and their employees, but I tell it so that I can provide employees with some advice. These are the three things I got out of the experience.

•      Treat your customers exactly how you would like to be treated

•      Remember that you have a job because of your customers – no customers = no job

•      Every customer can become a loyal customer, so do you best to make a good impression

I also found this article on tips for commission based salespeople and the first tip on the list was: “to make a customer feel special and important [you need] to greet them as soon as you see them. They need to know that you are there, that you are willing to help and that you are available for them to ask questions.” The shoe store failed to do just that.  From the famous words of Aretha Franklin, “all I’m asking is for a little respect, just a little bit” and so do our customers.

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