Good customer service is a must for the vast majority of jobs. So many people who provide customer service just don’t understand how truly important it is. You should be courteous, polite and attentive to your customer. You should do what you can to help them get what they need or help them to solve their problem. If you are in sales you need to gain their trust, make them feel as if you are their friend. And that is definitely a place where things can go wrong. I’ve seen plenty of salespeople who seem to forget that they really aren’t friends with the customer. They don’t have the close ties and freedom to say whatever they want the way they can when they’re with their real friends.
When a salesperson is with a customer it can almost feel like they are in a private conversation away from everyone else. That feeling can lower the salesperson’s guard. The conversation can move into areas it shouldn’t. There are too many possibilities for me to go into but for this particular post I’m going to talk about gossiping.
I’m going to relay an experience I had as an example of poor customer service and poor job performance. I went to a cell phone store to look at the upgrades for my current cell phone. This store is always busy so I was not surprised to see several people sitting, waiting for their turn to be helped. The salespeople spend quite a bit of time with each customer. This is understandable. People want to know which is the best option so each option has to be discussed, they want to be sure of what they are getting, what accessories come with the item, what the terms of the contract are and so on. Since I would have those same questions I expected to have to wait a while.
As I walked around looking at the different devices I happened to walk near a salesman who was speaking to some customers. His body language struck me as strange. He was leaning slightly forward and his voice dropped a little in level. I guess those things caught my attention and turned my focus towards him. I heard him tell the customers that things were really bad because the manager had given four people off for vacation at the same time. He said that should never be done, they were way too busy at that location to let that many people off at once and that the manager had really messed up. He then sat back, shrugged his shoulders and said he was just going to do his job.
My reaction was to leave the store now that I realized my wait would be longer than the norm. But the thoughts going through my head were: I wonder what his boss would think of what he just did? Why did he feel it was appropriate to air the business’s dirty laundry (private matters) in public? Maybe if he stopped gossiping he could get to the customers faster.
So how were his actions poor customer service? You have to remember that he is there working for the company. He’s supposed to build the customer’s trust and loyalty to the company. He should do that by portraying himself as a trustworthy representative of the business, as if the traits he is displaying are the core traits of the business. His job is to represent the company, it’s not about him (or about the manager). So now those customers are left feeling that if he is not there they may not get good customer service because the manager doesn’t know what he is doing. This salesman made his interaction with the customers all about him. He didn’t give them faith in the business. That is not the way the business expects him to serve the customers.
And lastly, don’t forget, he caused a customer to leave the store (me) without making a purchase that she had every intention of making. His job is to make sales for the business, not lose them. He did not do his job well nor did he provide good customer service even if he did help them get the phone they wanted.