Man takes pry bar to self-check till: Machine whacked after speaking to him in Spanish
“Well, let’s look at it this way: At least, this guy wasn’t buying a blowtorch,” is the way reporter, Brad Wong, in the Seattle Times article starts this “stranger than fiction” story of a Home Depot customer using the self- check out to buy a pry bar and a hack saw, and becoming so frustrated when the machine began speaking to him in Spanish, that he used the pry bar to smash the computer to bits! Fleeing from the accident, he caused over $10,000 in damages.
Now, this guy’s actions were definitely wrong and I’m in no way condoning it, but you have to admit sometimes bad customer service, or machines replacing people may give you fantasies about at least taking vengeance with a good tongue-lashing on the uncaring company who ruins your day with bad service. Who knows, maybe this guy was already having the worst day of his life, and then the challenge of having to navigate a new computer system was just the tipping point he needed to fall over the edge into crazy town.
I’ll fess up that the concept of self-check-outs at the grocery store drives me bananas. I guess I am an old fashioned gal, and I want a little t.l.c. when I’m parting with my money in a business establishment. My life is full of complications (as is everyone’s), and the store is just a last oasis where I can go and be taken care of. No thinking involved…in fact keep me unthinking and you’ll get more of my money. OK, Self-check out at the gas station is fantastic since it saves me time and is so simple; just put your card in, pull it out and pump. But self-checkout at the grocery store does not save me time or money. I can see how it makes things easier for the store – but if I were the owner you’d never see me putting the customer to work like that.
So can we put any of my rant to good use? Only to know that there are all kinds of people that will react differently to the level of service that you provide for your customers. Some thought should be taken to how the customer is treated throughout their entire experience at your company – especially if you want to build customers for life. I doubt Home Depot executives are kept up at night with regrets about losing this nutty customer, but I have to wonder how many other people have similar frustrations but never voice their opinion?
Since you are in the service business you don’t have self-check out lines, but you do have plenty of opportunities to provide great service, here are three tidbits on improving customer service in your business that I pulled from my popular special report written last year “50 Ways to Boost Your Revenues: A Small Business’ Service Guide to Building and Army of Repeat Loyal Customers in a Competitive Market Place”.
Don’t Give the Appearance of Focusing on Speed
It’s tricky. The customer’s time needs to be valued, yet, when surveyed customers report that they do not want to feel rushed. The trick is to put on a good show. You can be as fast and as busy as you want behind the velvet curtains, but in front of the customer you need to focus on what they need, and not your time constraints. Maybe for your company this means teaching your staff how to work “efficiently” without appearing hurried.
Never, I mean never, tell the customer to hang up the phone and go to your web site
Yes, this is my personal opinion, but very valid. I heard recently of a customer having a computer problem and contacting the repair facility by phone, only to be told to go online and make an appointment for computer repair. Are they nuts? The computer is broken…and that’s why they are calling!
It’s perfectly o.k. to mention the web site if the client would like to research further, but never give the customer the impression that their only option is to hang up and go to the web site. Your customers are smart people. They already know that if they want web site information they can go there. They probably chose to call because, either they were having trouble accessing your web site, they had a question that was not answered on the web site, or they prefer to talk with a live person.
Give Your Staff “Listening Lessons”
Once you have implemented this, you’ll want to try it on your spouse. It’s human nature. People feel more valued when they are listened to. You want your customers to feel valued, smart, and accepted, so they feel satisfied. Think of hair stylists. People often report feeling a connection with their hair stylist that they do not feel with any other personal service provider. And, one of the things that they are good at is listening, and making the customer feel good about themselves. So, teach your staff how to actively listen, understand their customers, and build good professional caring relationships.