Retail

Getting Better Service

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By Rajesh V.

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Expertbase Articles by Rajesh V. Retail Getting Better Service

Getting Better Service


We all as customers expect very good customer service. The question is, how many of us deserve good customer service?

Internationally we (Indians) are known to be rude, aggressive, tip poorly, treat staff like personal servants and then complain about poor service.

I had a friend who was an air hostess with Air India and once we had a debate about why Indian fliers were treated poorly while foreigners would be helped, smiled at and so on. She stumped with a single line. She said "Without fail most foreigners would say please and thank you, while most Indian fliers would demand whatever they wanted". That set me thinking and I started observing if we as a consumer class are really so bad.

Retail chains were a good place to observe this phenomenon, especially since they talk so much about customer service and customer delight. I noticed that most chains have instructed and trained their staff to smile, wish ask if any help is required. Most staff did smile and wish, while most customers would either look past them or be mildly irritated.

One day I commented to one such staff member that this must be one of the easier parts of their job. Smile and wish. She said "No sir, this is actually not so easy. A few customers smile back at us. Most just ignore us. I feel very bad when that happens." The staff became comfortable enough to share a few thoughts and it gave me a very different perspective.

These people come from poor economical backgrounds. Most of them use the bus or cycle to get to work. Their homes are not exactly the epitome of comfort and luxury. On top of all that they also have their personal problems and issues. In that context being cheerful, smiling and wishing is an effort. Doing it again and again when being ignored by many is an even bigger effort. Adding insult to injury are some misguided youngsters who use this as an excuse to make funny comments or remarks.

I resolved to remember this and make it a point to wish and smile back at staff, say please and thank you every time someone does a service. I am just being selfish. I am ensuring that this service staffs do not get so demoralized that they stop giving good service because no one acknowledges it and one day I stop getting good service.

A retail trivia – There is a customer service guideline called the 5 Feet rule. This was propounded by Sam Walton of Walmart and most retailers follow some variation of this. Every customer facing staff is required to smile and wish customers who come within 5 feet. How do they measure 5 feet? Simple, the floor tiles have a defined size and one needs to wish everyone within a particular number of tiles.

This article is part of a series, the author wrote for "The Hindu, Retail Plus".
This Article is authored / contributed by ▸ Rajesh V. who travels from Chennai, India. Rajesh is available for Professional Consulting Work both Virtually and In-Person. ▸ Enquire Now.

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