Saturday, March 2, 2013

Customer Focus

There are some things I don't like, one of them is being lied to, even if this lie is supposedly 'unintentional.'

I think that's what infuriates me more, is that these service people have no intentionality in their lives, and that shows up in their work.

So, today, I went to purchase some Yankee kindle candles. And I did my research, I found out that the Bed, Bath and Beyond was a Yankee Candle reseller, and I found the nearest location: on Loisdale road.

I called them to confirm that they had Yankee kindle candles in stock.

Emphasis mine.

The customer service rep responded right away and crisply. Yes, they have them in stock.

So, I get into my van, drive there, search the store.

What do I find?

Mmhm. Yes, we have no bananas.

So I go to a POS rep asking where can I find Yankee kindle candles.

Emphasis mine.

The rep pointed me to the Yankee candle section.

Not good enough. I tell him I've been to that section and could not find Yankee kindle candles.

Oh. Yankee kindle candles? That's different.

He refers me to the manager.

The manager sucks on his lip and says, after checking his inventory, 'We don't even have those in inventory, are they new?'

'Are they new?' is what I get.

I said I called in. I said I was informed they were in stock. He asked was it this store I called? Because other stores have more expansive inventories.

I gave the address and phone number of this store.

He apologized.

That was nice. An apology.

I got out of my house, into my car, and drove to Bed, Bath and Beyond, so I could not purchase the item I wanted, but instead get an apology.

He said he didn't know why the service rep would tell me they have Yankee kindle candles in stock without even checking inventory.

He didn't know why.

But I know why.

But do you see, Bed, Bath, and Beyond why an apology doesn't cut it? It cuts it for your manager, but not for me. I don't want, nor need, an apology. I wanted customer service, in that when I was told you have something in stock, you do, actually have that thing in stock.

What does your word mean? to you?

Because now, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, your word means nothing to me. You, through your representative told me you had something at the store I was going to, and you did not even have that ordered, nor in inventory.

You lost a customer today. You lost a guaranteed purchase, and all you needed to get my money was to actually back up what you said.

You didn't.


Here's why.

You don't listen, and you don't care.

When your service rep heard 'Yankee,' she stopped listening to everything else I said, even with my emphasis. Do you know why she stopped listening?

Because she's not 'customer focused,' she's not even focused at all. All she wanted to do was to get me off the phone and get onto the next thing.

So did she do due diligence? No. She didn't listen to what the customer was asking, and, then, even if she did listen (she didn't), she didn't even check inventory: a 1.75 second check (I watched the manager check: it took him precisely that long).

Bed, Bath, and Beyond: I am not even worth 1.75 seconds of your time.

I got the same (lack of) focus from your POS rep. I asked for Yankee kindle candles, all I got was a hand-wave to the section of the store I just came from.

You lost $50 in sales today, and a customer, because your representatives can't spare me 1.75 seconds, can't focus, and can't put any intentionality into their words.

Their words are your Word, and your word, for me, now means nothing, because what was said had no basis in truth.

Thank you for that.

Now, let's focus on some real customer focus.

Last week I was at the Ravensworth Safeway. I bought a bottle of wine. The POS rep was the MOD that day.

He was a huge, jovial man, just doing his job. If you've seen professional baseball players, this guy had that look: tall and built massively.

He asked for my id. Of course. Vendors are required to card when selling alcohol to people who look 30 or under.

I smirked, and handed him my drivers license.

He scanned it, then started to hand it back.

Then scanned it again. Then gave me a double-take, then a triple take.

We both started laughing at the same time.

"Wow! Whatever it is you're doing is really working!" he exclaimed.

And I was proclaiming delightedly how I just love it every time I'm carded.

This was probably the first time in his life he carded a man pushing 46, thinking he was in his mid-twenties.

But what happened?

To him, I was just another customer, and he was just pushing me, my order through the system, doing his job. But then, something happened, his expectations were subverted when he saw a young man (so he thought) buying alcohol, but found out this young man is nothing of the sort, and then he wanted to know about me.

Then he stopped treating me as an order being processed, he started treating me as a human being, and he reached out and connected with me: person, to person.

And it wasn't just me. As I was pushing my cart out, I saw him be relieved from the register, and he greeted an elderly couple, customers, by name and with a smile, and asked about their day.

And that: right there, was the real 'Point of sale.' That manager exemplified 'customer focus,' because ... intentionality? Yes, he showed it. He actually did focus on the customer right in front of him, and from those customers he did focus on, me, and that couple, he smiled and received smiled back.

It was a pleasure doing business with that man.

And what did that little bit of intentionality cost him?

Not a dime. In fact, I would go so far as to say he had a better, more productive day on the job, being (actually) customer focused and being intentional than the customer service rep I talked with at Bed, Bath and Beyond at Loisdale Road, who was probably trained to be 'customer focused,' but was she focused, and did she treat me as a customer? that is: a person with whom she wanted to conduct business with?

Was her day better, just trying to get by and blowing off people? Does she have high job satisfaction?

Is this what you wish to project as your image, Bed, Bath and Beyond?

Do you know what I prefer?

I prefer to be treated as a person. I prefer that when I ask you a question, I'm actually heard, and that the answer I'm given is actually correct.

And I will make that preference known by conducting business with companies that do that.

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