“People buy from you because they like and feel comfortable with you.”
The Lonely Customer
I notice outstanding customer service for personal and professional reasons. For instance, every time I go to a Cici’s Pizza, the employees greet customers as they enter the store. They've been doing this for years. A music minister I worked with in a church would greet the choir as they showed up for practice shouting, “Welcome to Cici’s!” It got laughs and the choir members loved hearing him greet them.
If you’ve ever been to a Waffle House Restaurant, you know that everyone who walks in the door is greeted by the employees. It makes you smile and notice. Imagine your doctor’s receptionist or the post office greeting you as you entered their doors. I use a UPS store for business services and am greeted every time I enter, even when the staff members are busy with other customers. I've gotten to know them and they have made it a point to know me.
So you can imagine how I felt on my last trip to Home Depot. I had to make a quick trip to return an item and was in a rush to do several other errands. I stood alone at the “Returns” counter for over ten minutes as five different associates glared at me with that, “Get off my lawn look.”
Finally, an associate worked some "magic" on me… She mumbled, “I’ll be with you in a moment.” This was a good trick, since she managed to do that and never made eye contact with me. In the meantime, more associates came to the “Returns” area and left, staring at me without saying a word or even acknowledging my presence.
I was in a hurry; they were not.
Five minutes later, another associate walked over and assisted me… reluctantly. I was still the only customer at the counter.
There’s nothing like observing four people watch another person working. But that is the current state of service with many Home Depot's and other companies.
Come Back, Bernie!
Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank founded Home Depot in Atlanta, Georgia in 1978 on a shoe-string budget. The two gentlemen revolutionized the home improvement business by using a warehouse concept. Their goal was to provide assistance to people who wanted to do home improvement projects and needed supplies, equipment and professional assistance.
Marcus was a master at customer service training. He told the employees to assist everyone and ESCORT them to the items they were seeking. He even threatened to bite off the finger of anyone who only pointed to another part of the store rather than taking them there personally. When he and Blank retired, they had made personal fortunes and left the corporation is great shape... but it didn't last, and corporate fortunes changed under different leadership.
Home Depot is now known for NOT helping customers that much.
Their slogan, “The Do It Yourself Home Improvement Store,” now seems to refer to...