Customer Service Training - It Only Helps if You Actually Do It!
Recently, I was returning home late from work tired and hungry when I decided to make a stop at a new sandwich place near my home. The restaurant is a national chain, that I have heard of, and noticed before in different areas of the country, but have never tried. What would transpire that evening made me wonder long and hard about the leadership of this company and others like it. Nothing terrible happened, but a series of smaller, yet perplexing issues would occur and leave me feeling like I would never attempt to spend my money with this company again. Did this organization do any customer service training at all or were they conducting training and missing the point entirely.
There were two workers and one was handling customers at the sign that said "Pay here" and the other employee was preparing sandwiches right by where I stood...and stood and stood for a full five minutes. I starting moving uncomfortably from leg to leg, checking my watch every few seconds and waited for some type of acknowledgement. Finally, I received it. An irritated glance in my direction and a cross sounding "If you are ready to order then you can place your order there." He pointed to the "Pay Here" sign prominently displayed 20 feet away. I responded in just an irritated a manner, "Thanks for letting me stand here like an idiot for 5 minutes."
At this point, I decided not to let one disgruntled employee turn me away and out the door. I decided to give them one more chance. What I found at the register was appalling and defied any kind of logic for a company who wanted to stay in business for longer that 2 weeks. I found two signs.
The first sign was home made and said "No American Express!!!!!!!!!!". Yes, there were that many exclamation points. First of all, any company these days who does not take American Express is in my book - not a legitimate company. Every company should strive to provide every way possible for customers to give them their money! The more important aspect of this sign, though was what it represented. The employees were essentially yelling at the customer, "We don't take American Express YOU IDIOT so don't ask me again!" The first thing for anyone in a customer service situation to understand is that the customer who asks if you take American Express is asking for the first time and doesn't know and doesn't care how irritated you are about the 100 times you had to tell someone today that you didn't take American Express.
The second sign was a company made sign. It said (I'm not making this up!) "If you are not satisfied with your sandwich in any way you must bring the unfinished sandwich back to the store with a receipt. We will not refund your money but will only give you store credit." (Presumably so you can buy another unsatisfying crappy tasting sandwich and start the whole process again.) This sign was in full display to anyone buying a sandwich. This is not a good indication of sandwich quality in any universe. Why would this organization want to put the thought of not being satisfied right into the customer's head as they are buying a sandwich? And, Why, with a capital W would they make it so difficult. Are there really that many people bringing back receipts without sandwiches or half eaten sandwiches without receipts, or who are eating unsatisfying sandwiches and then asking for their money back? If there are, then the company has a much bigger problem then sandwich fraud.
As all of these thoughts bounced through my head, a quick decision was made...in 1 minute I was at another sandwich place in the same strip mall. And there were no crazy signs to deal with. Within in five seconds I heard music to my ears, "Good evening, Sir, what can I get for you tonight?"
Charlie Bentson King is a writer and VP for TrainingABC - the world's most comprehensive source of employee training courses..