Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's The Little Things

Today my husband and I were at Home Depot. A brand new Home Depot near our house, so that even though we have been in our house for about 18 months, and really should just buy HD stock at this point LOL, we didn't know our way around this particular store.

My husband hailed an employee to ask where something was located. The man barely slowed his walk and nearly ended up shouting the answer to my husband over his shoulder before he reluctantly turned around and guided us to what we needed.

Then we went to the rental shop to ask about a pressure washer. Another gentleman walked up to us and said, "Can I help you folks with anything?". DH did have some questions, and the conversation was going fine until he asked something the employee didn't know. Well, my jaw nearly dropped at the change in the man's attitude - he seemed quite irritated that he'd have to walk over to the desk and check the stats on the washer. It was as if we'd actually made him *work* for a moment, instead of hanging out and just giving us rote information about the product. He came back, gave us what we?d asked for, and then walked away.

Now, those who know me well also know that customer service (or lack thereof) is a pet peeve of mine. I don't understand why people can't simply be treated courteously when they're in a store - or a restaurant - or any place where people interact. I will gladly get a hold of the manager on duty anywhere that I get stellar service, and tell them how wonderfully their employee treated me. In fact, I do this more often than I rant to managers about bad service. Unfortunately, I am not often presented with situations about which I can rave.

It's rare (at least in my experience) to get *really* bad service. Everyone's heard the old saw about how many people a disgruntled customer will complain to, and how a bad reputation can really hurt a business. So truly bad service has, for the most part, fallen by the wayside. But the problem I run into more and more is just indifferent service. Employees who don't bother to listen to you initially, because they just want to get you out of the way so they can go back to their phone conversations, magazine reading, or chatting with other employees. This also happened today- we had a return to make, and we did that immediately upon entering the store. The employee didn't bother to pay attention to what my husband said about the return, and only credited us for half of the merchandise, and she was none too pleased when she had to process *another* transaction.

The problem with indifferent service is that hardly anyone will report it, because it's not really enough to complain over, but it certainly doesn't add anything to the shopping (or dining, or any other) experience. But it?s pretty pervasive. People seem to be so preoccupied with themselves and getting back to *not* having to interact with customers that actual friendly, interaction is beneath them.

Customer service should be especially important to anyone who has their own business. It?s one thing if your employees are not as invested in it as you?d like them to be, but small business owners ? WE are the face, and the reputation, of our businesses. When a customer interacts with me through the web site, via e-mail or phone, or in my booth at a show, I certainly don?t want them to feel that I am bored or irritated by them! I want them to not only enjoy the jewelry they purchase from me, but to enjoy the whole experience of purchasing. I want to make it easy for my stores to sell my work, so I listen to what my retail and wholesale customers tell me, and I tailor my work, within reason, to fit what they tell me they like (in the case of retail customers), or what turns over quickly (in the case of wholesale accounts). To me, customer service is just the right thing to do. It makes the customers happy and happy customers will gladly come back for more. And really, isn?t that the ultimate goal of any business?

Original post date: 10/21/05

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