Has Bad Service Ever Happened To You?
My last blog post was entitled “How To Improve Your Customer Service.” That article spawned a flurry of discussion around what actually constitutes BAD service. As I have a bit of a knack for spotting bad service, I thought it might be fun to give you some real life examples of things that have happened to me over the past couple of years. If you think, (or know) that some similar things are going on in your business you need to act quickly to reduce the amount of revenue that you are surely losing.
Bad Service Examples:
- I walked into an insurance office and saw two people immediately pick up their telephones as I approached the front counter. But…no phones had actually rung! Clearly these people wanted to avoid contact with clients and had created fake phone calls to avoid work. My faith in the character of these insurance providers was deeply shaken.
- I walked up to the front desk of a hotel where I had made a reservation and asked to check in. The first clerk (who appeared to be doing nothing) pointed to another clerk and said, “She will be right with you.” The second clerk was deep in conversation with another hotel employee about her holiday and made me wait several minutes before acknowledging me. When she finally got to me, she was abrupt and downright rude. I am not sure why this person even wants to be in a customer service position but I imagine she is still treating people badly to this day.
- I sat down in a restaurant with another person (a sign at the entrance said, “SEAT YOURSELF”) and was ignored for ten minutes. When I approached the bar to ask for service a nice young man apologized for the delay and indicated that a waitress would be right over. However, even though the waitress did visit another group in the vicinity of my table, she did not stop to take my order. Apparently the discussion she was having about her recent engagement with her friends at the next table was much more important than providing service to my table. I walked out, never to return.
- I wanted to do a DIY job in my house and visited a major home renovation retailer for materials and supplies. As I stood in front of the myriad of toilet wax-rings with a confused look on my face, I was ignored by several passing clerks. I finally stopped one clerk and asked him if he could help me pick out a suitable wax-ring. He seemed annoyed that a customer would actually dare to confront him for service and at no point did he make eye contact with me! It was obvious that he wanted to get on to whatever “non-customer-service” job I had prevented him from doing, and in frustration, he grabbed one of the wax-ring boxes off the shelf and began reading the instructions on it. When I interrupted him to ask if he knew which one was best for the job I was doing, he said, “I don’t know, man, I work in flooring.” With that, he stumbled off while I stood there reading the boxes so that I could select the appropriate wax-ring. This unfriendly, humourless guy clearly hates his job and should change occupations immediately.
- I deposited a cheque in United States currency into my Canadian Dollar account. Days later, I received a nasty, hand- written note in the mail from my bank telling me that I am not “allowed” to deposit foreign currency cheques through the ATM machine and that I should have come into the bank for service. I find it odd that a bank would not allow its customers to deposit valid foreign currency cheques through their “Automated Teller Machine” on a Sunday when they are closed!
- For this next one, I will admit up front that I have a strange habit of not test driving a brand new vehicle before I buy it. I know what I want and when I show up on a car lot it is for the sole purpose of buying…not driving. During my last purchase, I was deep into the negotiation process with a very nice young salesman who was doing everything he could to sell me a vehicle. Apparently, after nine days on the job he still had not made his first sale. He was called away by the sales manager who took him into a cubicle for a conversation. When he came back, the nice young man told me that the sales manager had advised him that I must test drive the vehicle before I buy it. I told the young man that I no interest in driving it, but I would like to buy it. The young man disappeared into the cubicle again and returned in seconds with the perplexed sales manager who proceeded to tell me in no uncertain terms that it was necessary for me to drive the vehicle before I could buy it. Rather than make a scene, I looked at the embarrassed young salesman and said, “Okay, Sean, let’s take this puppy for a ride.” When I returned from the drive, I sought out the Dealership Manager and told him that I quite enjoyed dealing with Sean, but if the sales manager said one more word to me, I would not be buying the vehicle. I bought the vehicle later that day and Sean thanked me profusely. The annoying sales manager approached me as I was about to drive away and again harassed me about the value of a test drive! Some sales people have no idea what their customers want and try to force their own agenda to the detriment of their own business!
- I walked into a leather apparel store to browse the inventory. I was not really in the market for a leather jacket but I found the storefront appealing and my interest was piqued. There were four store employees on duty that day…all chatting and rearranging things. I found the inventory extremely appealing and of high quality. I tend to be an impulse buyer when I see things I like but fortunately for me, after several minutes of moving around the store, trying on this and that, not one of the employees asked if they could help me. When I finally headed for the front door empty handed, all four of them ignored me. As I exited the door, I looked back and one young man behind the cash register nodded and said, “Thanks for comin’.” To all retail sales clerks out there: “Every customer is a potential buyer but you might have to interact with them to make a sale!”
- Finally, I went to an office supply store to purchase a new monitor for my computer. Again, I had to interrupt a clerk, who again seemed annoyed that I had stopped him. I explained what I wanted and he proceeded to list off the various electronic attributes of several of the monitors on display. As I am not an expert in these things, I innocently asked, “Which one would you recommend?” His response was, “It doesn’t matter man, they are all the same sh_t! Any one of them could break down tomorrow!” This rude, foul-mouthed person, although knowledgeable, had no concept of decorum or salesmanship and his employers are doing him a disservice by not providing him with appropriate training. I bought my monitor elsewhere.
I am sure that everyone reading this has been involved in similar situations and share my frustrations. If you own a business, please make sure your employees understand their obligations to their customers. If you are consumer, please report your customer service frustrations to the managers of the various establishments so that we can slowly, yet surely, make customer service a proud tradition once again.
All the Best