Coincidence or Common Place?
Last week I wrote an article that talked about the problem of understaffing and how it affects customer service and the willingness of customers to return to an establishment. Little did I know how prophetic the article would be as I went to a store that afternoon, to return some items I’d bought.
I had made a purchase, but some of the items weren’t up to my expectations. I collected all my tags and receipts and set out to make a brief stop in the store to return the articles I’d bought. I got into line behind a woman who was returning and exchanging and purchasing and who knows what else.
The clerk did a wonderful job of keeping things straight as the woman’s friend repeatedly went to the racks to get merchandise to make a purchase that equaled the amount of the return. If the new purchase didn’t equal the amount of the return, she would go back to the racks to make a new selection. The employee didn’t appear to be upset or frustrated by the maneuverings of the two women. I watched in wonder as she handled the transaction.
Finally, much to my relief, the transaction was complete. I quickly stepped forward, only to have another woman come out of nowhere and step in front of me. I was about to assert myself, when the clerk politely told me the other woman had been waiting longer than I had.
By now, there was a line behind me of two or three other people. I made the remark to them that they should have more people helping this clerk. I repeated it to the employee when I got to the front of the line and complimented her on her handling of the situation.
She informed me that the cash register was programmed to inform management when there were more than 3 people in line. She’d let them know, but no one had come. She then picked up the intercom phone and paged help.
One of the women behind me made the comment that this was enough to keep customers away from the store. Imagine that, I had just written the very same words that morning.
The clerk did an excellent job of providing service, we were all pleased with her attitude, competence and the manner in which she dealt with us, but we were displeased with the experience because management hadn’t scheduled enough people to provide the level of service that would satisfy the customer. This is all too common place and is a prime example of being penny wise and pound foolish.
No matter how good the front line employee is with the customer, management and all other team members need to provide the level of support they need, in order to satisfy the customer’s needs. Management, by providing adequate staffing and the team, by stepping in when help is needed.
© 2005 Margo Chevers