Sunday, February 13, 2011

Customer Focus, and Not

It was a fairly typical Saturday afternoon. My spouse and I usually do our grocery shopping on Saturday, and so plan whatever other errands "in town" for the same time. Yesterday, it was library book returns, three local stores, and getting batteries replaced in a couple of watches.

One of the jewelry stores in town is a completely local operation: One store only, and mostly custom made things. We've had a couple of repairs done there before, and they are always courteous and helpful. It's right down the street from the library, so as Spousal Unit (a she likes to be called) returned her books, I walked over to the jewelers. Now, we're not big on Valentine's Day, but a lot of people are, apparently. The store was mobbed. I waited, after being nicely acknowledged, for about two minutes, and one of the nice folks was assisting me. They looked at what I had, and said, "I can't promise them for you today, but we'll do our best. We are open tomorrow, too." I said I would call before we finished up our local errands, and would stop back, but there was no rush on my part. I went up to the library to catch up to SU.

We went on our rounds, including a local liquidation store where we often find great bargains. She found a very inexpensive wooden gift box of postcards, but it had no price. We headed over to the Customer Service desk to see if we could find out how much they cost. (The store doesn't use barcode prices, believe it or not, and there was no little red tag on the box.) As we waited, I looked at the signs posted in the Customer Service alcove. They all began, "Our policy..." or "Store policy..." and there was invariably a "not allow" somewhere. The woman behind the counter was nice enough, and we found the price and purchased the item. But I kept thinking about those signs, and how they reminded me of "Keep Out" and "No Tresspassing." It all sounded like "Stay away, you customers! Don't ask us to help you!"

After our other errands were completed, I called the jeweler back, and he was just finishing up the watch batteries. We went back to the store and I picked them up. It was all personal. I could not find a "store policy" sign anywhere.

Nice job, I thought on the way home. That's Customer Focus.

What messages are you sending your customers?

Give it some thought.

I'll be speaking about a framework for Customer Service Excellence in Las Vegas on April 1.