Acknowledging Your Customers

By Sharon Worsley

Recently I was standing in line at a large retail store that has multiple locations across the country. The only person serving at the counter was one man who soon left with a customer to take him to another area at the other end of the store.

However, before leaving, he did not indicate to those customers still in line that he would be back soon. Or that someone else was on their way. There was no acknowledgement to the customers waiting.

The two women ahead of me in the line were both concerned because they had paid for parking that was about to run out soon. They had no idea at this stage how long it would take for another staff member to appear to assist them.

Meanwhile, the line was growing longer behind me. The counter we were standing at was the only one in the entire store that would be able to assist each of us, by the very nature of why we were lined up.

Finally, a young staffer peaked her head around and saw the line-up and quickly slipped back around the corner in what looked like a desire to avoid us. Upon s, seeing this, the first woman in the line went over to the woman and asked her to come to the counter to serve her. This staff member then walked over to the desk and started to help her.

Slowly a couple of staff came back to the desk to start clearing the backlog of people waiting in line. I purposely kept an ear out to see if any of the staff issued an apology for the delay and not one of the staff members mentioned the wait or the inconvenience, we all experienced.

As I was leaving the store, I ran into a staff member that I know well from past visits to this location. I asked her if the manager of the store was there, as I wanted to provide some feedback on what I had just experienced. Even better, the district manager was visiting the location, so I had the opportunity to speak with him and share what had just transpired.

This man had only started working for the company three days prior, so he didn’t have a frame of reference for the policies or training of staff. However, he did indicate that several of the team working at that location in the store were relatively new.

He agreed that this should not negate good customer service. Training should include how to handle situations like this with courtesy and recognition of customers having to wait. He assured me that he would take it up with the store manager that day.

I had already had an issue with this location earlier in the week. I had called the store on a Saturday and asked to speak with this same department to find out if they offered a specific service I was seeking. Not only was I informed that they did, but after giving the person full details of the service I needed, I was given a specific quote for the work. Upon arriving at the store, the next day, the figure I was quoted was more than triple the amount that I was given over the phone.

I asked the supervisor of that department why this was occurring, and he advised me that I had been transferred to a central customer service line. Therefore, there was a discrepancy in the pricing. As a customer, I am looking for consistency and don’t expect something to be more expensive when I show up to the location. I had no idea I was initially speaking to a central customer service line because when I called the specific store, I asked to speak to this department.

The supervisor did slightly reduce the total cost. He then confirmed that if I wanted to bring in the other two jobs that were the same, he would honour the same price he was now quoting me. Even though with a bit of a discount, it was still three times more expensive than the confirmation over the phone.

I don’t know yet if I will be bringing the two remaining jobs to this store as there are two other stores nearby that offer the same service. So, I will be checking with them first to see what the cost will be.

As a business owner, it is vital to acknowledge your customers, especially in the first example where they are being inconvenienced in some way. In your business, it might be something like not returning a phone call or email within a specific amount of time. Or if you have a brick and mortar business, having customers wait for extended periods of time in line without giving an apology for the wait.

It might be having to discount a price for a service or fee because of a delay or staff not giving the correct information, as was the case in the second example.

Ultimately customers have more choices than ever these days in where and how they spend their money. With customer service being something that can set you apart from the competition, it is often something that is forgotten by businesses who feel they are ‘doing enough’ to keep customers coming back.

Working previously at a four-diamond hotel in a very crowded marketplace, I know only too well the importance of providing good customer service to ensure a great experience and a customer continuing to return in the future.

Points to Ponder:

• Where is your business right now do you need to ensure all is done to create a great customer experience?

• If you have staff in your business, what training do you provide in the area of customer service, and how often do you check that staff are doing what they can to ensure customers keep coming back?

• Think of times when you have experienced bad customer service and what might that business have done differently. Then look at your own business to see if there is a chance that something similar is or could happen.

Sharon Worsley, The Business Development Ninja™ is the creator of the R7 System™ to Flood Your Business With Clients Today, Tomorrow and Beyond, helping businesses to ‘Wake Up, Shake Up, and Show Up.’ She also consults and coaches peak performers to excel as leaders. To learn more, contact Sharon at