My wife and I were talking the other evening about an interesting customer service idiosyncrasy we’ve both noticed at our local grocery store. When we are finished shopping and we go to checkout, regardless of which cashier is helping us, they universally begin with the question, “Did you find everything you were looking for?” Happens every time without fail. It’s a great thought, however we have realized that these employees are simply reciting a question they were ordered to ask. There is no genuine feeling behind it, it’s simply something they’ve been told to do, much as a computer that has been programmed to auto-respond.
We’ve even had some fun with this. After the question and contrary I believe to most responses, I answer, “No.” At least half the time, the cashier proceeds as if nothing had happened. The other times I get this incredulous look and the witty riposte of , “What, oh, well, uh, I, don’t, uh, well, uh, hmmm.” (Does not compute!)
I truly believe that the intent behind this effort is to provide excellent customer service, to show the caring side of the grocery store, and to make me feel welcomed. Unfortunately, when it is not a genuine concern, and in this case it is apparent, then it fails in its intention.
Do you have customer service contact employees that are just going through the motions, that are just reciting lines out of a manual like an automaton? Is the culture of your company such that this type of behavior is rewarded? If so then your company’s brand is also reflecting this lack of authenticity, a lack of genuine caring for your customer. It may take time, but it will affect your ability to grow and achieve your sales goals.
In Seth Godin’s book Linchpin-Are You Indispensable? he speaks of company cultures that encourage and reward behavior that simulates an assembly line, where employees are expected to do exactly as the manual dictates and not to have any original thought. The problem, as he states, is that once this behavior is engrained, it is difficult to break away from. Just as employees who act as robots are inexpensive and easy to replace, so your customers will also find other sources for what you do or sell.
So, do you mean it when you ask?
I would love to know your thoughts.