I was a shopper with a mission. I knew exactly what store I was going to, what product I was going to buy and my goal was to achieve said shopping trip as efficiently as possible. So as I strode purposefully into the large supermarket near my home to buy some floral bouquets, I was delighted to see a clerk working in the floral department placing flowers on display. “Great!” I thought to myself, envisioning a highly efficient shopping experience.
I said hello to the clerk who greeted me in return. I then went to the cash-and-carry bouquet section to make my selections. I continued to scrutinize the bouquets for another few minutes, looking for the perfect choice. When I pulled two bouquets from the bin and looked up, ready to cash out, the clerk was nowhere to be seen. I looked around, scanning the nearby area to find the clerk. Nothing.
I thought to myself in rapid succession:
“Didn’t she realize I meant to make a purchase?”
“Why would she walk away from a customer?”
And finally, one question I find myself repeatedly asking these days: “Wasn’t she paying attention?”
These days we hear a lot about customer service. In fact, there is a whole week dedicated to customer service. National Customer Service Week takes place during the first full week in October. It was first recognized by Congress and the President in 1992 and is also celebrated in the United Kingdom and other places. (Read more here and here.)
But acknowledging the importance of customer service doesn’t always translate into better customer service. To actually have better customer service, employees have to focus on, and pay attention to, their customers. In today’s world, where a social media review can literally be posted on-the-spot, paying attention to customers and their needs is a priority. It’s that simple.
Just pay attention. Your customers matter.
For of those of you wondering about the rest of the story: exasperated, I took my purchase over to the main checkout area, where of course, there were lines formed at every open cashier lane. I picked the shortest express lane I could find and took my place in line. When I got to the front the cashier asked me the ubiquitous question: “Did you find everything you needed?” Seeing a chance to register a small, but I felt important, comment, I replied: “Yes, but the floral clerk walked away before I could make the purchase.” The cashier apologized and proceeded to check me out.
– Sue Voyles