I’M JUST CURIOUS: Some advice on customer service

by Debbie Walker

Customer service is another one of those business items that owners and operators should force themselves to take notice of. I know right now they are just concerned to get more staff. That is witnessed by the many “hiring” signs in front of their businesses.

Hiring is going slow so now is the best time to tune up who you do have. If you are shorthanded, you probably have unhappy customers and employees. I believe that because I have heard it from friends. Because business has been so far behind and it is tough to take care of the numbers you are dealing with, an attitude adjustment of all would be great timing.:

One thing I know is the basics of customer service are quite uncomplicated. Most everyone wants to be acknowledged. It’s really very easy. You simply have eye contact with the customer and either tell them you will be right with them, or you signal them with your index finger held up, most people understand that as “just a minute”. I can’t tell you how much grief that can save in customer service by just giving that little attention.

Twice in the past week I have stood at a service counter for several minutes each. Clerks were on the phone and assisting other people. One was “chatting” with a co-worker. “Chatting” when a customer is being ignored is a big no-no. The clerks all ignored the fact that I was standing there. That little bit of eye contact and a smile acknowledging that I was there would have made a big difference in how I was feeling.

Oh yeah, and customer service is anyone who is being paid for their services rather by the hour, by commission or maybe by the treatment. It includes clerks in a store or even doctors. It’s all customer service. It’s because of these people waiting that you even have a position.

It’s a shame all offices and stores don’t do some training on customer service. What little bit it would cost them; they wouldn’t even notice, however, their customers/clients would notice.

One evening in a grocery store a little old lady in line just ahead of me asked the clerk to read her something on a label. That extremely rude clerk started ranting off to that woman about how she wasn’t hired to baby-sit people or read to them. I read it to her myself. As she left the cashier started running her mouth about “these old people”. With every word out of her mouth I was seeing a darker shade of red. I know she wanted my agreement, however, what she got was, “I hope if you make it to her age all you find for assistance is someone like yourself.” After I finished checking out I had a chat with the store manager. That just wasn’t a winning fit.

Having worked on front line registers and a variety of other customer service positions I know there are people who will try your patience. Stores and offices would be wise to do some of this training. If the company doesn’t offer it, train yourself, there are books. It will help you live longer.

We’re all in a hurry these days. Sometimes we forget we are not the only ones in this hurry-up life. It would be nice if we could all slow down a bit and be more compassionate towards others.

It’s just a thought but if you take good care of the customers you do have, you will get them and more. Smile. Laugh with your customers, A little common sense and courtesy can go a long way.

I’m just curious if you will find more patience this week. Contact me at DebbieWalker@townline.org with any comments or ideas. Thanks for reading, Have a great week.


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