A customer service lesson

poor customer service (print and web)My husband and I recently experienced a negative customer service situation with an office supply store near our house. Thankfully, in the end we had a positive experience.

I won’t go into great detail, but basically we needed to exchange a broken monitor holder that my husband had given me for Christmas.

He had purchased the original holder from the downtown location who had to order it from their warehouse. Because my husband was on holiday break, he decided to exchange it at the location near our house. Despite there being no problem ordering the holder at the downtown location, no one at the north end store seemed to know how to help us. In fact, we were passed around from person to person as they tried to figure out our very simple request – exchange the broken monitor holder for one that wasn’t broken from their warehouse since they didn’t have one in stock in the store.

We experienced other problems as well. There was the man at the online orders desk who barely lifted his head when we approached him and who seemed quite annoyed he had to help us. There was the other guy who spent about 20 minutes on the phone ordering a replacement. Despite my husband asking that it be sent to their store he ordered it to be sent to the downtown location. And, there was a woman who told my husband the order was in when he called about it only to discover after driving to the store that it was the same broken item.

The positive ending came from the store manager. Upon learning of the situation he apologized for the confusion and delay in getting the replacement to us. He also offered a discount for our trouble and promised he would call us when the replacement holder arrived, which he did the next day. Kudos to him for providing excellent customer service.

My husband happened to notice the north end store had several negative reviews on Yelp. The downtown store had more positive reviews with an overall higher rating. What was the difference?

I can surmise that the staff is not well trained at the north end store. They don’t seem to know the procedures for anything that might be slightly out of the ordinary. They also lack customer service skills. Several people did not want to take responsibility for figuring things out. The man who seemed annoyed having to help us didn’t greet us or maintain eye contact.

If you have customer facing staff it is paramount that your employees are fully trained on the ins and outs of your business. When they aren’t educated on your procedures, products, services and customer needs they will not feel comfortable and equipped to help them. This will reflect poorly on your company.

Your staff should also be trained on customer service so that they are versed in handling routine and difficult customer service situations, and, can deliver an excellent customer experience. In this online world, your business cannot afford unhappy customers.

The north end store could benefit from my customer service training. Strengthening the staff’s skills will lead to happier patrons and more positive Yelp reviews.

What are your customer service horror stories? Have you had a great customer service experience? If so, what made it great?


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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>

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