Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I was just beginning to feel like times had changed too much and there was no hope left. Then yesterday I realized that the world is not as dark as I feared . . . Customer Service is still alive.

Trust me when I say I have doubted for some time that customer service was still there. I'm not talking about the fake marketing ploys designed for employees to receive a 'perfect' score from a secret shopper. You know what I mean, a clerk will call you by name as if you are old friends, try valiantly to cross-sell any number of goods or services that you are not interested in, offer to carry your bags, cheerfully tell you how much you saved by using your store reward card, offer coupons for use on a future shopping trip.

Do I really want the guy at the post office to cross-sell money orders? Remind me to buy stamps -- sure; but when you clearly see a wallet with a debit card, credit card and checkbook, I'm probably not going to be in the market for a money order. And does he have to call me 'Miss?' I have been going to the same post office for 15+ years. He has watched The Princess grow up, he sees me with Hubby. Clearly I am not 'Miss' and I'm not flattered.

The grocery store I frequent must spend a good deal of money to be told they must appear helpful and friendly. An employee will greet you with, 'Are you finding everything okay,' no matter how many times they see you during the same shopping trip. While that shouldn't be upsetting, I can never locate one of these helpful people when I really can't find something. And the tactic sunk to an all-time low when I was greeted at the door picking up a basket with, 'Are you finding everything today?' I wasn't even completely indoors.

I have grown tired of being greeted (or not greeted) by unhappy, sullen workers too busy to acknowledge my presence in the face of their own personal conversation, phone call or snack break. I don't think it's too much to ask for a simple thanks and even a little smile while I'm scooping my change out of a dish at the register and waiting for a receipt to come my way.

Then, I went to my local dry cleaners to pick up the pile of things Hubby dropped off on Saturday. I saw the owner squint a little as I pulled into the parking space to see if he could recognize who was coming in. He began looking for my order before I was out of the car, chatted pleasantly about our unseasonably warm weather, and counted back my change.

Next he did the unthinkable -- he took the clothes off the rack and carried it out to my car. He carefully placed everything into the back of my vehicle and opened the driver's door for me to get in. Of course, Harper is hanging her head out the window to see what all the action was about. He ran back into his shop and came out with a doggy treat, smiled pleasantly, and wished us both a good day.

I hope some of the chain stores will take notice of practices like those at my dry cleaners. Even though the stores are nation-wide, the employees are members of the community just like me. A little bit of friendly mom and pop service can go a long way to establishing loyal customers. While in the past I have been a little embarrassed at having my cleaning carried out to the car for me, I now realize that it really is just the personal touch I have been looking for all over town.

21 comments:

anne bebbington said...

Doesn't that just restore your faith in humanity - shame he can't rub shoulders with a whole lot of others :o)

Sue said...

That kind of personal service from your drycleaner is practically unheard of anymore!
I know what you mean about the "overly helpful" clerks and stockers at the big chains. I bought a greeting card and they asked if I needed help out to the car!
(I'm not frail looking btw!)

Anonymous said...

Working in the downtown area of our town has shown me that there really is customer service alive and well. I try to pass it forward. I carry merchandise out to cars for customers. I treat customers like I want to be treated.

Anonymous said...

Bad service is my number one pet peeve! That dry cleaner sounds like he is worth his weight in gold!
dawn

Patti said...

Libby, as someone who teaches customer service to all our new employees your post really struck home. This is what we are trying to get through to them. What I find interesting is that none of these young people really seem to care whether or not they receive good service themselves - they've never or very seldom experienced it!

I'd love to have your permission to print what you wrote and use it in class. Of course I would say the author was anonymous.

Patti

Sweet P said...

I won't go back to a store if I've had bad customer service. But, if I get good service, I'll be back. For example there is a small, family-owned grocery store with a butcher counter. They cut their meat fresh every day and will even do it to order. I've gone in to buy a side of beef and they will cut it anyway I want. They will even tell me how to cook someething if I don't know how to do it. I will never buy meat from a chain grocery store again.

Jenni @ Fairybread said...

That sounds like a nice genuine person you dealt with Libby. I laugh when the young girl at the checkout asks me "how are you today?", and I say "fine thanks, how are you?" and they either stare at me trying to remember what they're supposed to say next, or totally ignore me now that they have said what they're supposed to say.
The art of conversation is lost I think.

Susan said...

What a great story that was. Here's hoping he doesn't get swallowed up by some more expensive chain dry cleaners!

May Britt said...

That's why I seldom shop at the big super markets. They have no personal service. I love the small shops where you can talk to people and get service. That is what I told my DD when she got a summerjob at a shop this summer: Be kind an polite to people and treat them good.

Anonymous said...

YAY! I though that kind of service went the way of full service (including a window washing, check of the tire pressure, etc.) gas station...

& I am really tired of every store in town tracking my purchases by making me use their cards. Am I going to be denied health care when they look back and say, "You ate too much junk food & that is why you are sick."

KCQuilter said...

Couldn't agree more!!! DH hears me rant often about those endless questions at the grocery store checkout--"Did you find everything okay?" "Paper or plastic?" "Milk in the sack?" etc. etc.--when what I
REALLY want to be able to do is watch the items scanned to make sure I am getting the SALE PRICES!!! But who can concentrate with all those !@#$%^&* questions??

Nina In Norway said...

I am so happy I live in a small village, and whatever shop I choose to shop, I am being treated friendly. I hate it when I need something I cant by locally, an need to go to the nearest town. I live by the rule: Treat others, the way you want to be treated yourself.

McIrish Annie said...

the service you received at the dry cleaners is GENUINE oppposed to "corporate" or "commercialized" service. We see that real stuff so infrequently while the fake stuff is everywhere.

Judy said...

Well good for some things huh? I think that's why I said something to the lady in line behind me at the post office the other day who started complaining the SECOND she walked in and saw one clerk working. First- 2 seconds ago it was empty, second- wait your darned turn quitely or LEAVE! Nope she mumbled and puffed and cleared her throat as loudly as she could when the 80 year old guy was chatting up the sales lady.

People these days are so rude. And I live in the south. We were raised to be polite! Act ugly and I won't come back.

Darlene - Dazed Quilter said...

Good and authentic customer service is fading away slowly. It's so nice to hear that it's still alive and well in your corner of the world, Libby.

You should hear me rant about the lack of "please, thank you and excuse me". GRRRRRRR

Tracey @ozcountryquiltingmum said...

It's very little different here. I deal mainly in a 10,000 people town 100 kms from the next majotr centre and they generally seem to feel that they don't need to bend over backwards because you don't have much choice. But two exceptions-and aren't these doing well- A new little fruit shop with real tasting fruit, always cheap named bread and when you are short a couple of dollars and turn to put back one loaf of bread, they actually say,"pay us next time" and don't write it down, so you really make sure you do!! The other is a butcher that does exactly what you want and hes it all packed and ready for you to pick up. Is that so hard? And don't even get me started on telemarketers on my phone!!!

Shelina said...

There definitely is a difference in customer service by the book, and customer service that is genuine. I hate it at Joanns when they ask me what I am going to do with my fabric even though it is very apparent that they have no interest whatsoever. The first time I got all excited and was telling them about my new project and it was quite a blow to figure out that they didn't care. Now I just mumble "quilt" so they have something to write on their receipt to prove that they asked.

Finn said...

Hi Libby, good to read your post, and hear you echoing what is thought by so many of us.
I consider it a privledge to live in a very small rural community because of the "mom and pop" feeling and service. On a cold snowy day, I've actually had the UPS man drive me many blocks to my house to get another key after locking myself out of my running car. He waited while I went in to get the keys and took me back to the car. I can't begin to tell you how much that meant to me. I'm sure you can guess *VBS* Hugs, Finn

Anonymous said...

bravo--I completely agree! Isn't amazing that most of us feel the same way. A smile with a personal greeting is so easy to give and makes such a difference. This is something that should first be taught at home then it would naturally extend to the workplace.

Sheila said...

Your post could have been written by any one of millions of people, unfortunately. Mom and Pop stores are my preference... they make sure you return because of a vested financial interest.

Screen Door said...

Reasons--- no, excuses---people are in too much of a hurry, people are more concerned about numbers, people are being 'taught' the act of customer service without having the 'heart' of customer service. Have stores gotten too big to care?