The night was rather quiet for shopping. I think the preseason pro football game featuring the hometown favorites trumped shopping for the average local. There were very few people in Best Buy when I arrived and I was relieved to be able to comfortably not have to contend with other shoppers. The nice thing about the product I was shopping for is that its brand is displayed separately from the other options, therefore eliminating the need to search through aisles. So there I went, directly to the display. Only a few moments passed before a young sales man approached me with a cocky, smug, “Oh, I bet you want to buy a XXX (another product of the same brand)”. I simply replied most definitely, “No. I am not interested in that at all, thanks.” And with that the young sales man mumbled something under his breath, turned on his heel and marched away leaving me standing at the display to fend for myself. I thought perhaps he may have said he would be right back (at least I’d hoped that to be the case, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt). But no, he didn’t return and there I waited nearly 5 minutes before deciding Best Buy obviously did not want my money. As I marched out of the store a bit incensed, I mentioned to the door monitor that the sales team this evening was not worth their weight in salt. He blankly looked at me so out the door I went; my money left with me.
Target also was quiet. It was nice to meander through the store on my way to the very back where the electronics section is located. There was another woman that arrived in the department just as I did, which really was no big deal since there were two young men working in the department. But then again, I am not certain why or how but that was not the case. I went directly to the brand display just as I had done at Best Buy earlier. I caught the attention of one of the salesmen ever so briefly. He and his associate chose to attend to the other woman who described to them a cell phone accessory that she was looking to buy (the price of said accessory is equivalent to 1/5th that of the equipment I was waiting to purchase). Hmmmmmm… I am not certain how this team of salesmen determined their approach to serving customers was efficient. Again, just as at Best Buy, I was left waiting unattended for what seemed like 10-15 minutes. So onward I went to Walmart with my money still in my wallet.
By the time I arrived at Walmart it was now late enough that one set of the doors was closed and there were associates stocking the shelves throughout the store. I was somewhat surprised that there were a fair amount of customers compared to the first two stores. By now I was rather tired of my shopping experiences and frustrated that I still had not as much as asked if my desired product was in stock at the previous stores. Before I even made two steps into the electronics section I was approached kindly by a young salesman very eager to assist me. Wow. He asked if I knew the specifics of the product I was shopping for or would I like to look at various options. And once I shared the details, he promptly scurried about to check if it was in stock. It was not. Just my luck! But fear not… this kind young salesman offered to look online to see if it might be available for order. While he stepped away to do his research I was approached with offers of assistance by three other associates; one even proceeded to check with my kind salesman on the chance she could also assist. In the end I was instructed how to make an order for delivery of the product to my home or to a store for pick up. I did not spend my money at this store either. I did, however, check whether the Walmart sales associates receive any type of commission or points for their sales because these team members definitely did their jobs well. As it turns out they are not commissioned in any way. The sole kudos for their efforts would be my glowing remarks to the store manager on my way out… without my product, money still in my wallet.
It amazes me the stark differences in the levels of service in these examples. Each of the sales associates at each of the stores was, I assume, in the same age range (early 20s). I don’t know any of them personally to say to what degree they are amiable, competent with expertise in electronics, or whether they have worked prior service jobs, but something obviously was askew with the associates at the first two stores. There was a lack of customer empathy and connection and definitely a lack of understanding the fundamentals of recognizing an easy sale. Though certainly these individuals failed to deliver a professional representation of their companies, I fault the management that has not hired more selectively, the management that has missed the mark with training and mentoring, the management that does not employ consistent quality control measures. Successful business teams recognize that it costs more to secure new customers than it does to retain repeat customers. And so it is with acquiring and retaining employees that represent a company’s aspirations of stellar service. Businesses that begin with insightful hiring techniques and utilize engaging coaching and training methods with their employees (irrespective of wages) tend to attract and retain employees who best represent their organizations in the marketplace.
Do you have a comparative example of services gone right or wrong? How does your business’ hiring and employee retention measure up to your customer acquisitions and customer satisfaction?
*Southeastern Wisconsin, USA