Friday, February 26, 2016

Customer Service

Three fascinating customer service experiences this week.

I went to Starbucks near my office to grab a bottle of water.  I looked in and there was only one customer at the counter and 4 people employed behind the counter. I should be in and out in a minute, or maybe not - this is Starbucks after all, not the most refined service delivery system.  I picked a bottle up and stepped the cash register and waited,  The young man working the register seemed to be frozen in fear, he consulted with all three of his colleagues, and did nothing.  The reason, the customer in front of me had handed him a $100 bill.  He didn't know what to do, and none of his colleagues seemed to understand why he was standing there like a deer in the headlights.  He didn't have enough change in the drawer to give change for the $100 bill.  No one seemed to know what to do, they comped her order and gave her back the $100 bill.  In the mean time I have stood there for five minutes, with no one acknowledging my presence.  I paid for my $2 bottle of water and left.  The issue was they had to many people employed, and no one working.  I wanted to scream, THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN A RETAIL BUSINESS, IS THE PERSON STANDING THERE TRYING TO PAY FOR YOUR PRODUCT.  I would have been rude if I had said it, I can get ugly when I am angry.  Retail is all about service - and that requires putting the person across the counter first.

My home phone rang, yes I still have a landline at home.  It comes in handy for long calls.  Sorry, but my smart phone is really terrible at being a phone.  It is hard to hear, hard to hold.  So I make the mistake of answering my phone.  They are calling on behalf of a home cleaning service.  I ask, "do I have an existing business relationship with the business you are calling for?"  Her answer is "you must have."  I ask her to explain to me who the business is and when I have done business with them, to which she says "you are asking to many questions.  Okay!  I continue, that my number is on the Federal No Call list and if she can't tell me about the existing business relationship she is calling in violation of Federal law.  She does not like that, it gets worse, she tells me I am lying, if my name was on the do not call list she would not be calling.  I demand to know who she is and who she works for and she hangs up.  I am not George Washington, but I don't like being called a lair. I am a lawyer - not a liar.  I should sue!

Some silly study announced this week says that the Washington Metropolitan Transit System is the best in the country.  The story was just below the article about the teenage wanna be thugs shooting someone on a subway platform the day before.  Most likely the victim refused to pay for drugs.  Interestingly on my way home that day the attitude of the train operator seemed to be buoyed news - the news about being the best in the nation, not the news about the shooting.  He was very perky in his announcements and thanked us at the end of the line for riding the Number One Public Transit system in America.  God, I wonder what the worst public transit system is like.


  1. we came in the top 10 list at #9. huh.

    I received a nuisance call at work yesterday; I started telling them all about my bronchitis and my trip to the MD. they hung up.

    I LOVE MY LAND LINE. I just don't answer it.

  2. I find those who run cash registers baffled by cash period, and forget any of them being able to make change without the machine telling them what amount of change to give.
    The last solicitation call that I challenged and just didn't hang up on told me they were expempt from the do not call list because they were only giving me information about the product and not actually selling me on it.
    I always liked to be thanked for riding!

  3. David,
    One of the easiest tasks in the world is to provide good customer service. The secret is to treat the customer the way you would like to be treated. I don't know why this simple fact escapes so many in the customer service field. I had a similar experience at a Safeway supermarket a few years ago. The employees at the store outnumbered us who were standing in line. They had 12 checkout lines . Two were open. The Express line and the regular line. Two customers were in the regular line. I only had one item. I saw the Express checkout clerk standing behind the other checkout clerk, chatting. I motioned to him that I would like to pay for my one item. He was annoyed that I interrupted his conversation and without saying anything, motioned me to get at the end of the regular line. Like you, you don't want to be around me when I really get riled up. I wanted to throw the ham butt at him but managed somehow to control my anger and put the on sale ham butt (the only reason I even went into that store) down on the counter and stormed out. Of course I immediately regretted not saying something to address his ignorance of customer service. Of course I never went into that store again. I did call the manager but to no effect. She didn't care either. Then I found out it's a union store so that explained a lot. I can almost always identify a business where there are union employees because they're low on customer service.

    Long comment here. The landline phone. I am SO GLAD I got rid of my landline. The main reason I kept it was because of those sometimes long phone calls that I have to make to a Help desk. I made one of those calls today with Bill's iPhone while I worked the app on my iPhone with the help of the customer service representative I called at Bose, who was very good and skilled at great customer service, he cared. 99.8% of my calls were from telemarketers and whenever I told them I was on a Do Not Call List or to take me off their calling list, they always hung up on me. ALWAYS. They're not calling now and it feels great not to have that phone ring several times during the day. Also it feels great not to have to check my voice mail only to find more telemarketing calls. The telemarketers have ruined the landline phones. In ten years time the landline will go the way of public phone booths.

  4. Anonymous2/27/2016

    Good grief. I sometimes count to 10 to get over these things but rarely get past 5. This deserves to reach 10.
    Be thankful you don't use London Underground in rush hour. Just saying.

  5. Wasn't it Woody Allen who said most of success if merely showing up on time?
    I think this is true for customer service. In a way we are all in 'customer service'; simple things like manners, listening, and being competent still soar.