Tales of Customer Service: Highs and Lows of a Week

We encounter customer service every day in many different ways. From the gas station to the coffee shop, from the cable company call centre to the car dealership, the time we spend with businesses is usually more than we spend with our families. I decided to take a look at one week. One week of service – good or bad. One week where I paid a little more attention to how I was being treated while I made my way from store front to store front. Below are four highlights:

A week of good and bad customer service

Which ever way you go, you're dealing with customer service

Starbucks – My girlfriend was in need of a caffeine fix so we popped into one of what seems like 17 local Starbucks. Upon entering the store, I noticed three staff members behind the counter all working on a cleaning project…and they kept right at it. One looked up at us then looked back down at her task. Another turned, glanced at us and walked to the back. That’s right TWO EMPLOYEES looked at us and said nothing. No “hi”, no “be with you in a moment”, no “what can we get you.” Finally, like breaking through a fog, one of them realized no one had said hello and finally took our order. It wasn’t a long pause from beginning to order, but it was too long.

The Bay (Part 1) – I needed dress shoe laces. At the counter, I noticed a 30 inch lace that was the perfect style but too short and a 36 inch lace at a perfect size but wrong style. I asked the clerk if they had any more in the back. No dice. I told him that unfortunately, the 36 inch laces weren’t going to fit the look of my shoe. His response: “I guess your only choice is to make it work.” My response: “Or, I could choose not to buy them at all.” Which I did.

The Bay (Part 2) – Buying dress shirts is easy – know my neck size, know the style I like. Done and done. In about 5 minutes I’d made my choices and took them to the cashier. He looked at my selection, looked at me and got out his tape measure. In about 5 minutes he informed me my arms were longer than the shirt sleeves I’d picked. Rather than simply ring it in with no questions asked, he solved a potential problem and acquired a return customer. Hard to measure that.

BMO – Welcome to BMO. Have a great day. Common phrases that I don’t think we can hear enough. Sure the idea of a “greeter” is kind of cheesy but the value is there. I’m not just a face, I’m a customer. I’m not sure if this is done at every branch but I now prefer this one because of the warm greeting from the customer service desk. Does it take a lot of effort? Would I still go there to pay my student loan? (well yeah, I kind of have to) Bottom line it’s a small added value with far reaching repercussions – customers will tell other customers. Or write blog.

Were these the only stores I interacted with last week? No. There are tons of other stories to share of customer service hits and misses. We spend a lot of time buying products and services, wouldn’t it be nice if it was more enjoyable?

One Comment

  • Anonymous

    Love your “one week” review idea. Stories teach, inspire, and empower. Yours are gems. 

    The first (Starbucks) is living proof that all the performance process improvements and metrics do not ensure great service.  People-skills (good or bad) can trump both.

    The second, Bay Part I, is rude and unacceptable.  I would not buy either.

    The Bay Part II is true customer service.  Beyond the transaction, the associate listened, understood the real need, and delivered.  To quote your phrase, a true “upsell”!

    Thanks for sharing these.  As I pass them along (with credit to you of course), I know they will inspire many to deliver the ultimate in customer service.

    Here’s my latest post offering two examples where the “touch” was lost by misdirected focus:



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