Customer Service How Can I Help You?
After working in various retail stores for a few years now, I can say I have seen some excellent customer service and many satisfied customers, but as with everything else, where there’s good there’s bad. Ideally we would all like to walk out of a store having found exactly what we needed, when we need it and at a price that we believe reasonable but we all know this doesn’t always happen.
Define customer service
What does good customer service mean to you?
To me excellent customer service means I am leaving a store completely satisfied with my shopping experience and any problems are resolved quickly and in an appropriate manner. There is a difference between good customer service skills vs. excellent customer service skills where excellent means the cashier or shop floor clerk takes you through the help process from step 1 listening to your concern to paying for the product. Choosing positive point of sale solutions will give the customer an overall ease of shopping experience.
Good customer service might show you where the product is and bad customer service might not help you at all, or point you in the general direction of what you are looking for or need help with.
A reasonable cost of a product, convenience and accessibility of the product, and knowledgeable helpful staff are all elements that are important to me to have the best shopping experience available.
I have seen too many situations where customers lose their temper or take out their everyday frustrations on employees who are doing the best they can to serve demanding customers. Even a first time cashier has to learn quickly to grow a thick skin when it comes to keep his/her cool with customers.
I know you can’t please everyone and I’m sure we’ve all experienced chatty employees who would rather talk away than help a waiting customer. How to create a more positive shopping experience for yourself? First off, remember that the individual you are speaking with is only a representative of the particular company in which you are shopping in and most of the time has no buying power or impact on what product the store chooses to carry. Understand that stores have policies in which the employees are trained and expected to follow, these can range from health and safety to point of sale policies.
Employees cannot break these policies without the possibility of losing their job. If you do not like a particular stores’ policies, instead of ruining someone’s day with mean and hurtful words choose to shop somewhere else and avoid these situations all together. It’s their job, would you it like if someone barged into your workspace and disrespected you for reasons that are beyond your control? Not likely.
Ask questions or even ask to see a copy of the store’s policy. This information should be readily available for inquiring customers. If you are unable to resolve your concerns, politely ask to speak to a manager or someone else who may be more qualified to deal with your concerns
Be an informed consumer and speak up
Know your rights as a customer and understand that some of these rights vary from store to store. This includes the Scanning Code of Practice, stores have the option of whether they follow these guidelines. Knowing this kind of information and other store policies beforehand can prevent some of our frustrations as a customer in-store.
Remember though that having rights as a customer does not give you the right to disrespect an employee who is following company policies that they are trained to follow. I also agree that this goes both ways but any organization that hires for a customer service role should hire someone with the appropriate customer service skills which can vary from company to company.
Customer service job description
When an organization posts a job for a customer service role you can be sure that they are looking for someone with a bit of spunk and a smile. Every organization will search for the top candidate but there may be some skills that are ‘must haves’ when working with the public.
- Excellent attitude
- Excellent communication skills
- Excellent listening skills
- Excellent problem solving skills
- Ability to make judgement calls
- Willingness to help others
- Motivated and goal oriented
This list is just a small list of thousands of “must haves” from human resources when hiring for a position for dealing with the public because the staff is the heart of any business. Without the staff championing the mission and values of the company they may be losing money faster than they are rolling customers through the door.
What else do I do to make sure my shopping experience doesn’t blow?
Have reasonable expectations
Many people these days feel as if they should be able to get what they want when they want and if it’s unavailable to them they can be rude or even downright mean to store staff. I am sorry to say I do not believe the ‘Customer is always right’ as I can’t even count how many times I have overheard customers say things that completely blow my mind.
Name calling, threatening store staff and even throwing a product out of frustration as the store didn’t have exactly what that customer wanted are only a few things I have seen. I can recall a recent incident where a customer wanted to purchase a display model television and after being told that they did not sell display models, continued to tell the employee they were lazy and they just didn’t want to help them.
Stores being short-staffed
I have a hard time myself understanding why some multi-million dollar corporations these days never seem to have enough staff on hand. I know it has to do with their payroll budget but is this not an important part of making sales?
From an insufficient number of cashiers, to next to no sales staff on the floor it seems like some days you do more waiting around than actual shopping. What do I do then? If you are set on shopping at a particular store but run into this more often than not consider shopping at a different time, when the store is typically less busy. We can only complain so much and sometimes have to take it into our own hands to make a better shopping experience for ourselves.
A good customer
How can being a good customer benefit you?
Saving money on your purchases by negotiating is a tactic that has been around for a long time. Being a good customer may save you some money too. Particularly employees who work on commission have some room to play with on pricing, which usually comes out of their own commission.
By being a tolerant and informed customer, you may find you are offered a discount or even some free accessories to go along with your purchases. The employee not only made a sale and earns their commission, but you leave satisfied and possibly with a better deal and more product for your money than you were planning on. They are less likely to offer a deal to impatient, rude, pushy customers as these savings typically come out of their own pocket.
While not forgetting your right’s as a consumer when it comes to customer service, also remember to understand that not everything will always go your way and that is just a reality of life. Although we may not always like to accept things the way they are, making the best of your shopping trips by being prepared and planning ahead is a good start to a satisfying shopping experience.
What customer service experiences have you had bad or good to share? What keeps you going back to shop at a particular place and why?
Katrina is regular contributor for Canadian Budget Binder and is as passionate about personal finance as she is gardening. Katrina is a horticulture graduate with over 10 years experience with landscaping and greenhouse production.
Her goal is to share her knowledge and experiences blogging about gardening and her continued passion for personal finance in hopes of motivating others. While being a single mom of two and an in-store marketing representative for major retail shops she also runs her own Landscaping Services in Southwestern Ontario.
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