Service leads to success

Colin Powell said, “There are no secrets to success: don’t waste time looking for them. Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty to those for whom you work, and persistence.” I believe that excellent customer service is also part of the equation that leads to success.

Not too long ago, a friend, who’s also a customer, came in to our store to pick up her order. When she entered the store, anyone could tell she was not in the best of moods. And she couldn’t wait to tell anyone and everyone in the showroom about a bad customer service experience she’d just had at a big-box chain store. She was UPSET!!! There were a couple other customers in our store at that time, and she included them in her soliloquy about the rudeness she’d just experienced.

The story goes like this: She had gone to a big-box store to get a few supplies for her office. She could have sent someone, but it was a nice day and she wanted to get out. Her company has a “corporate account” with this particular chain, and she was sure it would be a quick errand. But it turned out to be frustrating for her and another customer who was waiting at the main checkout counter in that store. The clerk, behind the counter, was entering something in the computer register and didn’t even look up at the two people standing there. About three feet away, two other clerks, in their uniform shirts, were talking to each other, so engrossed in their conversation that they weren’t aware of anything else in the store. Not a one of these three employees had acknowledged the presence of the two customers waiting to be helped.

Our friend then asked the clerk at the register for some help, and the clerk’s comment, without even looking up, was, “This is important … I have to get it done.” Our friend, who has a powerful presence and is usually not afraid of speaking her mind, was taken aback by this, as was the other person waiting in line, and they looked at each other in disbelief, wondering when paying customers had become “unimportant.”

Not wanting to be ignored, our friend turned to the two other employees who were talking to each other and asked for help with checking out. One told her he was helping the other to identify where a product would be and (pointing to the clerk at the register) said, “She’s gonna take care of you.” Well, that did it! Here were three employees within a few feet of registers and not one had acknowledged their customers – not one had offered help, or even shown interest in helping – and worst of all, none of them had accepted responsibility for making their customers happy.

She very clearly told all three (and anyone else in earshot) as she was walking out of that store that she would be canceling her company’s corporate account with this retailer and that she’d be transferring her company’s business to another chain (there are many others out there).


By the time she got in her car and was headed to another office supply store, she had decided to stop in and pick up her order from us on the way, thinking that she’d be able to vent her story to people who would “understand.” This all happened during a busy time for us … the lunch hour … when other corporate people come to place orders or to pick up, so she had center stage for 10 minutes as she shared her “terrible” customer service experience and finished with “businesses should be able to count on all their employees to give service, service, service, and more service!”

Even though our friend’s business critique wasn’t done on Facebook, Twitter, or any other quick-results platform, it still had lots of word-of-mouth power. Success comes when customers are pleased with their shopping experience. When they’re not, they tell others.

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