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I’m Still Talking About a Revolution

July 17, 2011
Mary Jane Copps

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After a 7-day vacation, I’m heading back to my life as The Phone Lady – and I’m looking forward to it. There are several projects waiting for me that I’m excited about.

I did have one experience while on vacation that is worth sharing – that reminded of the importance of defending (for lack of a better word) our right to receive quality customer service.

Everywhere I go I hear stories and comments about not feeling valued as customers and how this has resulted in a loss of loyalty to brands, stores, advisors, etc.

I would love to be part of a larger, more vocal customer revolution. I think it’s vital that the existing malaise about delivering great customer service be exposed, not ignored.

Here’s my latest contribution to this vision:

I did have to go and pick up a package at my neighbourhood post office, which is inside the Lawtons on Bayers Road. At the counter when I arrived was a woman who’s first language was Spanish. She was a confident woman, knew what she wanted, but the words did not come easily to her. Behind the counter was a young woman who was impatient and sullen – a deadly combination.

It became clear to me that the young woman behind the counter had no idea what her customer was saying. Not only that, she had the audacity to roll her eyes while her customer was speaking.

I couldn’t help myself (of course!). I spoke up and said to the customer “She’s not understanding you. Perhaps there’s something I can do to help?” The customer smiled and laughed at me, making it clear that she was used to this behaviour. She left and I stepped up to the counter. I was not amused!

Using the young woman’s name from the tag on her shirt, I commented on the fact that she was making it obvious that she wasn’t happy. Here’s what she said:

“I’m happy. This is how my face always looks.”

Now for anyone that has ever shared space with a teenager, this remark will crawl under your skin. Which is exactly what it did to me. I told her she had a lovely face but that her attitude towards her customers was terrible.

Then, before leaving Lawtons I asked to speak to the manager. They were not available, but a supervisor was called. Now my guess is that the supervisor didn’t particularly care what I had to say but I did relay that the young woman staffing the post office was better suited to stocking shelves than dealing with customers.

I shared this encounter with friends at dinner that evening and it prompted one of them to make a call to an Addition Elle store, where they’d been the night before. They’d approached a sales clerk to ask a question. The clerk was leaning against a clothing rack and didn’t even bother to shift her posture in order to acknowledge my friend’s question. She simply said “No, we don’t have that.”

Perhaps 1 or 2 or 3 of you have been thinking about vocalizing your thoughts on a recent inadequate customer service experience. I’m hoping that today you’ll pick up the phone and let your thoughts be heard. We do need a customer service revolution, but it will only happen if more of us are heard!

 

Happy dialing everyone!

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