All posts tagged Customer

  • Customer, Serviced #2

    Where?: Michelli’s Cafe, 448 Boundary Street, Spring Hill QLD 4004

    When?: May 12 2008, 2pm

    Who?: Male salesclerk/food handler

    What?: I made the snap decision to buy lunch from this store, which is on the corner of a busy street. Though I’d passed it a few times without much interest, I decided that today was the day. I noticed that there was a pre-made egg and lettuce sandwich sitting in the window. I approached the cashier – a young girl – and made my request. She started toward the pre-packaged sandwich, before I told her that I wanted it fresh. She gave me an inkling of a disgusted expression, before ringing it up and charging me $4.50. I paid her, then stood back while she served the next person in line.

    Throughout this interaction, a talkative Greek man behind the counter had been chatting to a customer as he made a kebab. Upon wishing him a great day, his attention turned to me.

    “What can I get for you mate?”
    “I just paid for an egg and lettuce sandwich.”
    (he gives a brief glance to the inept register girl)
    “An egg and lettuce sandwich, certainly mate.”

    He immediately removed any negative thoughts I might have been having about the cafe’s so-far poor service by engaging me in conversation. While he expertly and swiftly prepared my sandwich, we talked about Brisbane, and I mentioned that I’d moved down from Bundaberg a few years ago. He listened, before telling me that when he was my age – I told him that I’m 20 – he moved from his small Greek town to Athens. “The big smoke!”

    While spreading mayonnaise onto my wholegrain bread, he remarked that this was the “best mayonnaise in Australia mate!”. By this stage I’d assumed him to be the owner of the cafe. His humour and genuine enthusiasm resulted in a thoroughly enjoyable customer service experience. I got the impression that he treated every customer with the same respect.

    As he wrapped my sandwich in paper, he told me to enjoy my day, and to try his grilled chicken burgers the next time I came back. “We’ve got Portuguese seasoning, mate, it’s to die for!”

    Result: A relaxed customer who’ll happily return to try the grilled chicken burger. And aside from my poor choice of curried instead of normal mashed egg, the sandwich was great. Especially the mayonnaise.

  • Customer, Serviced #1

    Where?: Australia Post Office, 448 Boundary Street, Spring Hill QLD 4004, Australia.

    When?: May 6 2008, 12pm

    Who?: Female salesclerk (name to be confirmed)

    What?: I made the mistake of visiting the store during the lunchtime rush. The line was fifteen people-deep; the automatic door stayed open due to people standing under the sensor. I’d been uncharacteristically caught without phone credit, and as I was attending a show with a friend that night, I had to recharge to reply to his logistical query.

    Cue fifteen solid minutes of queuing. I silently lamented my lack of foresight to bring reading material, though I hadn’t anticipated the store to be this busy. I passed my eyes across crappy pink stationary a dozen times, and attempted – along with everyone else in the store – to block out the moronic blonde yapping on her phone. “Anyway, I’ve gotta go, everyone in the store can hear me, haha.” No shit.

    By the time I’m served, I’m understandably a little annoyed. I’m a patient dude, but I’d found Australia Post’s customer service to be rather lacking up until this point. It was as if they’d scheduled their employees’ lunch breaks at the same time every other worker in the suburb was on their half-hour, and attempting to post mail – or buy credit.

    I gave a cursory “g’day” to the female salesclerk and requested my service. She complied silently for a moment, before asking – apropos of nothing – how my weekend was. I was taken aback, as the tone in which she asked the question conveyed that she would actually give a shit about my response.

    I responded that I’d had a great weekend; I spent Saturday with my parents and brother, and we all went to a concert together. Though, I neglected to mention a largely unfavourable event I attended on Sunday.

    She enquired about which band we saw – she didn’t know them – then told me that she was glad that I’d enjoyed my weekend. I politely enquired about hers, and she related some brief details about spending time with her kids.

    This exchange took place while she scanned the bPay barcode and waited for the system to produce a serial number for me to enter into Optus’ prepaid system. The line was still fifteen-deep behind me as we shared a friendly moment together within earshot of every other customer.

    What’s remarkable about this customer service experience is that the salesclerk turned an unhappy, impatient person into a happy, smiling customer purely by ignoring the outside noise – fifteen equally unhappy, impatient customers – and listening. In an edgeconomy, listen + respect x trust = loyalty and partnership.

    Yes, this was just one salesclerk putting themselves second and the customer first. I’ll admit, it’s a step to extrapolate one man purchasing phone credit at a corner post office to an entire economic model.

    But – imagine if every customer was treated with equal respect. Imagine if every customer was listened to. Imagine if every solution was customised to fit each individual need. That’s the future we’re aiming for. If we’re not, we should be.

    “The goal of every single interaction should be to upgrade the brand’s value in the eye of the caller and to learn something about how to do better, not to get the caller to just go away.” – Seth Godin discussing telephone customer service, but his message is equally applicable in any related situation.

    Result?: I left the store with a smile on my face. Genuinely nice people are difficult to find – I don’t claim to be one, either – which is why it’s disarming and refreshing to encounter them.