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Customer Service- Customer Satisfaction
Working in Customer service can be a most rewarding job or it can be a most difficult job, depending on your outlook. There are plenty of people working with the public who truly have no business doing so. Eventually it will come to them, they will leave finding other employment.
During a seminar at K-Mart many years ago, we listened to a speaker in regards to customers. Within K-Mart, customer service was upper most in importance. It’s been many years since I have worked there but I still remember the some words of our speaker. The thing that sticks out most in my mind is this; “For every 100 customers you will get, 99 of them are going to be pleasant and you will soon forget them. That 1 irate customer, you will never forget.”
How true that statement is. After 28 years I still remember with clarity his face and his contempt for me, my supervisor and finally our store manager. I was called every bad name under the sun, as was my Supervisor. When she saw that there was nothing either of us could do to placate this man, she called the store Manager. Even that did not seem to please him.
That 1 Irate customer
It really should have been an easily handled situation and I truly did my best, he was just not in the mood to be understanding or helpful, in anyway, shape or from. Every week when K-Mart had a new ad came out, most of the sale items were put in the Midway (center of the store) with new stickers on them that had a PLU (price look up) number that was coded into the registers. They did this first as a convenience for the customer coming in for those sale items. The rest of the items on shelves getting new tags the day after the sale started.
As Cashiers we did our best to memorize what items were on sale but when a new sale came every week, we had to adjust mentally and it took a bit. To assist us in this we had Ads placed at all the registers, in the ad beside each item was the PLU number. This day was the first day of the sale and the customer had spent his entire shopping time going thru the store getting the items off the shelves rather than the Midway. Therefore NONE of his items were marked with the PLU sticker.
The first item I rang up he stated “That’s on sale”. I called for a void (in those days you had to have assistance) got out my paper and found the PLU number, rang that up correctly. The next item the same thing. At this point I apologized to the customer. My apology was “I’m sorry, the sale just started today and I have only been here at work about 15 minutes (very true) and I haven’t had a chance to look at the Ads, so I’m not sure what is on sale”. That should have sufficed. It did not.
Rather than assist me by telling me which items were on sale, so I could look them up for the correct price, he continued letting me ring up the wrong price. Telling me afterward, then I had to call for a ‘void’. My void card was getting fuller by the minute, my line was getting longer and my customer was getting angrier. I certainly was feeling some frustration as well.
Where he went wrong
Eventually Bonnie, my supervisor stood by my side watching me ring up an item only to get it wrong, then get yelled at by this customer, for getting the price wrong. I asked her if she wanted to take this one. She told me “No, you’re doing fine.” After about 20 voids, he was extremely irate. Even Bonnie tried explaining to him the ad just started, how could we possibly know what was on sale? She told him “Please, just tell us which items are on sale, I can look them up”. He said “That isn’t my job” (there were a lot of other obscenities thrown in, but they don’t bear repeating)
He began calling me names in regards to my intelligence as a female dog. Then Bonnie came under attack with the same names. Finally Bonnie could take it no longer, and called for the Big Guy, the head honcho. He came and the man said “Ah, finally someone that has a head on their shoulder” (Apparently he didn’t like women that day) When he tried explaining to the Store Manager about my ‘lack of intelligence as a female dog’ once again, it was not taken kindly.
Eventually he was ejected from the store with the admonition never to return. Now that was some SUPER backing from my boss if I ever saw it. He stood up for me and my Supervisor, and defended us. That type of backing doesn’t usually happen, I’m glad it did. It kept up my spirits and kept me in the world of dealing with the public.
Customer is always right
What should you do when faced with an irate customer? First and foremost, keep your head! Do not get snippy with them no matter what they say or do. Make your apologies if necessary, sometimes just apologizing for even an imagined slight will help you. Most situations can be handled this way.
Most companies have a policy “The Customer is always right” Your customer is your life line, without them you have no sales and with no sales you have no job. Always keep this in mind when dealing with the public. Customer satisfaction is very important is keeping customers coming back.
When you can't make them happy
If your customer still is not happy, then it is time to call in reinforcements. Your direct Supervisor should be called first. That is what they are there for, to help deflect tension. You may be asked to step away from the situation, do so quickly. This is not a slight against you. Your Supervisor will come to you once the situation is handled to ask your side of the story.
Your Supervisor should direct the customer away from any possible fray. This will do two things, 1. Help calm the irate customer 2. Let you get calmed down as well and get back to work. During this time DO NOT talk about the customer to any other customers. This could possibly get back to the offended one, which will cost you your job.
As a cashier I tried to keep my customers happy. To me being a Cashier was one of the most important jobs in retail. Why is this? Because as a cashier, you are the customers last person they see and have to deal with. You can make or break their shopping experience. If they have a good ‘check out’ experience they are more likely to return to the place of business.
Being a good cashier is more than just being fast and getting the customer through the line. You can gauge your customer just a little by their attitude as they come in your line. If they seem to be in a hurry, smile pleasantly and get them rung up, they don’t not wish for any banter, unless you can do both at the same time. There are some who want to dawdle all day at the register, do not rush these people. They have waited in line for your time, give them a little bit of it.
Some people are just lonely and want to chat a bit. If your line gets long, get them checked out rapidly and they will move along. It doesn’t take anything out of your day to be pleasant to people. Most customers understand your feet hurt and you want your break, but please don’t take out your frustrations on us.
Be a good customer!
For the people who are customers, be pleasant to your cashiers, joke with them a bit, make them smile. It will make your day more pleasant knowing you made someone smile. If you notice a customer behind you who seems to be getting frustrated, try joking with them. It will make you wait in line a little more pleasant, as well as the frustrated customer.
If you have complaints, take them to customer service, your cashier is just that a cashier. He or she does not have any control over the rest of the store. They do not have control over how many cashiers are on duty, so complaining to them about how long you waited to check out is only going to make things worse. Your frustrations will mount as will theirs and they will be more likely to make mistakes, making your time in the store a bit longer. More than likely the only time they see the rest of the store is when shopping or punching in and out.