MARCH 28, 2012

Customers want it all
When it comes to customer service I want it all. I want you to sense I need help and offer to assist, but I also want you to know when you should leave me alone.

As a customer we expect a lot from employees and a CBC Marketplace survey had me wondering what type of person I am.

The consumer investigation show asked people across the country about pet peeves when it comes to bad customer service. An undercover investigation examined the helpfulness and knowledge of staff. In short, customers expect the average retail employee to be everything and know everything.

In a perfect world, the untrained employee would know every detail about the toaster and not simply recite the features from its box. (I can read the box on my own, thank you very much.) The untrained employee would know the specifications of the thousands of products sold in the store. In a perfect world, right?

Somehow pretending to know makes customers feel better – I know because I did it years ago when I worked retail. I bull-crapped my way through hundreds of sales and it was considered good customer service because I am a good actor.

In actuality the level of customer service we want really depends on our shopping situation.

If I am running into the store to get something and I know its exact location, stay out of my way and let me get it. If I am wandering up and down an aisle seemingly lost, then ask me if I need help. (But if every employee comes to me within a few minutes I’m probably going to leave because I am annoyed.)

Maybe we don’t want employees to be know-it-alls so much as mind readers.

As customers we should be mindful that we probably have the same knowledge of a product that a random employee has. You wouldn’t go into a hospital and ask medical advice from someone mopping the floor because you assume that isn’t their expertise.

It is no different in a store. Just because someone is wearing the uniform, doesn’t automatically mean they know everything about everything.

As a funny tidbit: I loved greeting. It was my job to welcome customers with a smile. When people wouldn’t reciprocate and ignored me, I was doubly pleasant and continually said hi until they acknowledged me. I was annoying but at least I was making sure they heard me welcome them!
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