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Cash in with excellent customer service my way

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By: Katrina

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.

Shopping experience

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
  • Empathy
  • 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 cbb

Post Contribution: 

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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Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos. net/ Stuart Miles

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  1. Great post, Katrina. I worked in customer service for two decades, and saw it all. I always worked hard to satisfy the customer to the best of my ability, and so, knowing how difficult customer service jobs can be, I always work hard to be a good customer as well. Yet, I expect good service too – maybe too much. Good customer service, like FM mentioned, seems to have, by and large, gone by the wayside these days. For that reason, when I find a biz where I’m treated well, I make sure and go back.

  2. I agree with Mary that a big part of customer service on the company’s end is being pro-active and making sure customers understand what they are signing on for. Even for something as straightforward as a grocery store, Trader Joes consistently gets top marks for customer service and I think a good deal of that is their standing offer to let you taste anything in the store before you buy it. Any sales associate on the floor is empowered to open up a package from the shelf for you to sample if you’re not sure you want to buy it. So the customer gets to decide right then if they want it or not knowing exactly what they are getting. It changes the dynamic between customer and retailer for the better.

  3. I knew I would be bad at customer service when I did a short stint working at the container store last year. People just annoy me! lol! That being said, I do try to be a kind a patient customer because I do know the job isn’t easy.

    1. Oh Tonya, what did you do? lol.. You are right it’s not easy and I’ve worked in the family business for years on end in customer service. You always need to put your smiley face on.

  4. Just go onto any retailer’s Facebook page, and you’ll see legit…but more ridiculous…stories. I’m sure plenty are embellishing their stories – after all, it’s all to make said company look bad, and maybe, just maybe, get free stuff out of it.

    Yes, payroll budgets come into play. But also, sales history. Where I work, though I had it briefly explained to me but not in any great detail, it looks at history for the time period in question: on this day between this time and this time, you had x number of customers, therefore, you need x number of cashiers. However, no one can predict what day a store will be busy, what time of day it will be busy. Last thing any business wants is staff standing around when it isn’t busy. At least our store, when it does get busy and there isn’t enough staff (plus staff are entitled to their breaks and lunches – how many and how long depends on how long their shift is), at the cash registers, the customer service managers can and will jump on a register, they will page for cash-trained associates to get to the front to assist, etc.

    There are policies. And yes, meant to be followed, but they can be ignored. Where I work, since the store managers are in charge of their store’s budgets and inventories, despite the policy in place from Head Office on a few things, the store managers do have discretion to ignore policy and do as they see fit for their store. Some cases, it works in the customer’s favour, other cases, the store’s. The number of times on Facebook I’ve seen people say because of some incident (often it’s a minor, not a major one) they won’t shop at x anymore. However, some of those the incident getting their goat policy is the same or very similar at the other place they say they’ll start shopping at.

    If you have a legitimate beef, don’t spout off in the heat of the moment. If one takes the time to settle down, think about it, then makes their beef in a calm, logical, clear manner, it goes a long way to making things easier. AND, if a customer is proven wrong, apologize. You’d expect the store or company you’re dealing with to do so, make sure you do so as well.

    And, yes, the customer is not always right. That ended long ago…when customers starting pulling their own scams to get what they want.

  5. Great post, Katrina. Many get confused about the relationship between the employee and the customer. Like the cafe where I get coffee. Their staff need to trained not to impose on the the customer’s time and definitely should never sit at a customer’s table. I have owned a business for 8 years now and good customer service is king. I have not paid a dime for advertising in 6 years because I understand what my guitar students and their parents want and I give it to them, no excuses.

  6. Another great article Katrina!! I find humour works to get some where with customer service too. We just had a No Frills open in nearby Stratford and I was so looking forward to the sales flyers, but the head office dim bulbs decided that as. ST Marys has an Independent store I town we would not get the NF flyers. I was I town on a rainy day bit I stopped I to talk to the manager about that one, we had a lovely chat, he laughed when I made a crack about doing a drowned rat number as I got soaked running in, and explained the matter was out of his hands but he was trying to get us the flyers here. He suggested I email head office so I did, didn’t get me anywhere but I tried. Because he was so nice about things I check the ad online if I know I’ll be in town and will shop there.
    I’ve had the same issue with SDM not getting the flyers here,and have had some lovely chats in store picking one up if I’m driving by and stop in…. I’m still not getting the flyers but I know the store level managers are on my side working on this so I’ll keep hoping to see the flyers in the bundle every week….

  7. I just had a situation this morning where I was being sold on a product upgrade but they neglected to furnish all the relevant information in advance of obtaining my agreement. I called right back after listening to their pre-recorded blurb required to complete the upgrade and said “reverse it please”.

    They were shocked and told me how NO ONE had ever asked to have it reversed. If that was supposed to embarass me, it didn’t. I told them now there was one, me! They wanted to know what sent me back to reverse the product upgrade? I told them the less than full disclosure on their part did. They had minimum personal annual income and family income limits and a minimum annual spending limit on the credit card that did not exist on my previous card.

    Although I fit the personal income & family income requirements… I had no intention of using the card to the minimum prescribed annual shopping of $15,000 per year. My MasterCard is only used when a vendor does not accept American Express – in a big year maybe $2500 per year. If they had told me this in advance, I would not have agreed. They didn’t. So, it’s their problem to reverse it all. I will be following up to make sure it has all been completely correctly.

    Hubby and I have 8 different cards with them between each of us personally and the business, so I don’t feel a need to be bullied into accepting something I don’t want. I was calm, polite but I did point out that perhaps the front line staff suggesting these upgrades need to state the “requirements” in advance of completing an upgrade so they didn’t receive other requests for reversing the process. 😀

  8. Customer service is so important. There are many companies out there who we can do business with, and complacency is what they count on. If individuals chose to speak with their actions (and dollars) more often, those companies that go the extra mile will benefit both with word of mouth advertising, and eventually to their bottom line.

    Unfortunately these days, I seem to have more negative customer service experiences than negative.

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