Customer Service means being more than just a clerk

Posted by on March 25, 2016

The idea of what is Customer Service means different things to different people. In order to create a consistent, outstanding customer experience we all need to take responsibility for our actions and involvement with the customer (so it is never not our job); always make it personal, and by that I mean it make your personal mission to be better in all aspects.

Here is an example: Recently I visited a book store that only sells children’s books. The store was empty and I asked the clerk, “Do you know where I can find “This Moose belongs to me” (I was buying the book as birthday gift and I knew my daughter Harper loves this book so I thought…hey great gift.)The clerk walked over to the computer, typed a few keystrokes and said, “I don’t think we have it, do you know who the author is?”

I could not recall…the clerk replied again “sorry I do not think we have it.” I thought to myself how many times has this happened? That someone working retail doesn’t care enough to try, they will not even leave their stool. I thanked the clerk for trying and indicated I would just look around. I found “This Moose belongs to me”–they had three copies. I bought a copy and mentally noted that I am going to try other stores first next time.

Walking out of the store I stopped in my tracks as an alarming question popped into my head. Does this happen at Flaman stores? I know it does, because I review inventory at all our locations and our staff do not know what is in our yards when I ask them about specific pieces (myself included, I am guilty of this).So I reflected: are we (at Flaman) making it our personal responsibility to know our inventory, what we have, it’s condition, options and colors? What would the customer experience be if all of us (not just the sales team) knew what we had (or a very good idea) and thus could answer most of our customers questions?

So let’s go back to the clerk; what went on at the book store?

It’s possible that he thinks his job is to be a clerk, to keep people from stealing things, to type letters into a computer and to read the results out loud as he stands at the cash register. If that’s the case, this store, like all stores staffed by clerks who are taught to be merely clerks, are doomed.

On the other hand, it’s possible that his job is to take it personally, to be interested, to notice, to care, to add more value than a website can. Someone that takes it personally, that is the type of person I want to be on a team with and I think our customers want that too.

Steve Whittington is Managing Director of a boutique digital agency, Graphic Intuitions. He has also served for a over a decade as a member of the Executive Team of Flaman Group of Companies an award winning organization and has over 25 years of executive experience. Steve’s current board work includes serving as Chair of the board for Flaman Fitness Canada, a national retailer; President of Glenora Child Care Society; and Co-Chair of the Marketing Program Advisory Committee for NAIT’s JR Shaw School of Business. Previous notable board work included, a Director for a meal prep internet Startup Mealife and Chair of Lethbridge Housing authority, the third largest Social housing NGO in Alberta.

Academically, Steve was an instructor of Project Management at Lethbridge College for seven years. Steve holds a Bachelor of Commerce Honours degree; he is a Certified Sales Professional (CSP), Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Marketing Specialist (CMS) and (CCXP) Certified Customer Experience Professional.

Steve’s first book Thriving in the Customer Age – 8 Key Metrics to Transform your Business Results teaches about the customer journey and provides a guiding framework spanning all stages of the customer experience. The book explains how every metric impacts an organization and how leaders can best utilize each metric to provide a stellar customer experience. Everyone knows the customer is the most important part of a business. This book provides the tools to improve an organization’s customer experience and drastically transform business results.

Recently Steve’s Blog has been profiled as one of the Top 75 Customer Experience blogs

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