Sunday, October 13, 2013

Customer Service vs. Lost Business

When new companies open their doors, they want business. It’s that simple. Most companies go above and beyond with their opening day promotions, some give discounts, and others give away products or free food or drinks. So why would a new store on the day of its Grand Opening turn away business?

On a recent weekend afternoon, I visited an office products store. While I had intended to visit a store near my home, I drove by another store in the same chain with a large sign announcing its grand opening, so I drove into the parking lot eager to see a new store. But what greeted me was a huge disappointment.

I immediately found the item I needed, a printer cartridge, and got in line to pay. There were a few other customers walking around the store, but no one else in line. However, there were about 8 employees scattered around the store. The employee closest to me walked behind the counter and asked, “Are you paying with cash or a credit card?” I was a little taken aback since, again, this was a new store, and the remark I would have expected was something along the lines of “Did you find everything you were looking for?”

I responded that I was going to use a credit card, and the employee immediately pulled out a small device from his pocket. It turned out that the device was a mobile credit card payment device. Since I saw several traditional cash registers behind the counter, I asked if I could use one instead. And then, as if a tornado hit the building, the employee rudely asked, “WHY?”

Apparently, this employee had not been trained on either the new technology or how to interact with customers. If he had, he would have responded in this manner, “Since this is a new store, we’re lucky to feature this amazing new technology to make the payment process easier for our valued customers. If you have any concerns about security, here are the ways we encrypt your credit card data. But if you would prefer, we can still use the traditional register.”

Not every retail outlet can be a duplication of Apple stores. Employees at the Apple stores explain their mobile payment devices and how customer data is protected. And can anyone recall an instance when customer data was breached at an Apple store? None have been discussed in the mainstream media.

However, with so many data breaches in the news, the company (of the store I visited) should be proactive. What is the store’s policy for encryption? When is the data deleted from the store’s system? The customer needs to know how the credit card information is protected from point of sale to saved transaction in the company’s database. All employees should know how the process works. Granted, not all customers may express an interest or concern, but since this is new technology for the store, all employees should be prepared.

While the signage above this store invites customers to “Be a Part of Our New Experience,” perhaps, the company’s leadership team should visit the store as undercover customers. It should come as no surprise that, due to the employee
s attitude and lack of training, I left the store without my printer cartridge.

In the words of customer service expert Shep Hyken, “Customers are smarter than ever and looking for more value. More than just customer service, they want a great customer experience.”

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