It Starts at the Top

I was recently at a convenience store attempting to purchase my weakness: Coke Zero and a Twix.  I had just finished pumping some gas outside and was ready to get back on the road after presenting a class on customer service.  I might have made it through the checkout process a lot faster if it weren’t for the fact that the clerk was engaged in casual conversation about his new SUV with custom rims.  But it wasn’t his buddies or a girl he was trying to impress with his bragging.It was his boss and store owner.  And the boss was fully into the conversation.

Are you kidding me?  Here’s a buying customer, cash money in hand, waiting patiently (yet aggravated) at the register for the conversation to break just long enough for the transation to happen.  I literally waited for over a minute.  And it’s not like I’m a little dude who would be hard to notice in a crowd.  They both knew I was there and did nothing to put the customer first over a conversation that should not have been happening in the first place with buying in customers in line.

I confess to being a bit taken aback by the whole situation.  Had that been myself or any of the other business owners I know, the conversation would have been shut down until the clerk had completed the sales that were right there in front of him.  I probably would have rolled up my own sleeves to help move the line myself.  But that’s just me.  All I could think of was I should be inviting the guy and his whole staff to attend my next customer service training in that area.  They clearly needed it.

Managers, it begins with you.  What kind of customer service culture are you fostering and promoting in your business?  Are you there to talk about an employee’s car…or are you there to help that guy earn his salary to put gas in the car, pay his other bills, and build a living?  I see it time and again amongst employees, and it aggravates the tar out of me every time.  To see it come from the manager/owner is an even greater sin.  Go ahead and neglect the customer…next time you’ll see him get his Coke Zero and Twix across the street.  Those $3 sales add up.

QUESTION:  How do you foster a customer service culture in your company?

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