Editorial: Do people still fit the equation?

Customer service appears to be declining in some larger businesses

There was a story recently about someone getting burned by a hot beverage at a well-known coffee shop (not in Sooke). What bothered the person involved was the fact that no one behind the counter came forward to help and they appeared not to know what to do.

This could be the fault of many things, but the first issue that comes to mind is the fact that no one was trained to deal with a first aid situation. They just stood there. The second is they didn’t seem to care. Are we losing our people skills? Are we so self-absorbed that people no longer fit into the equation? We’re luckier in Sooke because we do seem to care about customers.

This is common in many businesses. The staff is paid poorly and time is not spent on training in such things as basic customer service. It does not take money to tell staff to be friendly, attentive and there for the customer. The customer in front of you is more important than an in-coming phone call. They can call back, the waiting customer may decide to leave. Is the customer always right?   If you lose one customer due to in-attention, you will lose more – guaranteed.

Poorly paid staff are not really well trained in product knowledge either, they don’t really seem to care. And forget about after sale service, it’s non-existent. Some customers would rather pay a little more to get what they need down the street. Service does not end once the product leaves the store. The most successful businesses are ones that honour their guarantees without question. People will return to any business that treats them with respect and consideration. Those two things do not cost any money.

If service is unacceptable, it makes it so much easier for a customer to shop on-line where they don’t have to deal with a sales clerk or cashier talking on the phone or over-long to another customer, ignoring them or just not being helpful.

A simple “I’ll be with you in a moment” can do wonders when someone is waiting. In fact, what it does is acknowledge the customer, thereby making them feel like they are appreciated.

Respect, attention and consideration don’t affect the bottom line, but lack of those will.