Over at Church of The Return Customer, Jackie and Ben have published the latest data on word of mouth. No surprise there, but if you’re looking for facts that’ll help you sell your co-workers on its importance, they’ve got it for you.
What drives word of mouth? It’s the experience the customer has when attempting to purchase your products or services, right? How do you ensure that your employees are delivering legendary customer service in their dealings with customers? In an earlier post, I’ve talked about the importance of feedback and accountability. I’m going to make a leap of faith here and say that my neighborhood Office Depot (definitely NOT to be confused with OfficeMax) uses feedback, accountability, and training to see that their customers have their needs met or exceeded.Two weeks ago, I went first to OfficeMax where an employee failed to meet my needs (nor did he care) then to Office Depot where I received friendly and helpful customer service. Remembering how well they did two weeks ago, I returned on Saturday to purchase my favorite tax software. An employee, who was moving merchandise from one part of the store to another, stopped long enough to cheerfully ask me if I needed help. I did, and he delivered–with a smile. It was nice to see an employee who enjoyed his work, especially when he could have been at home watching March Madness:-)
At the checkout the cashier was also friendly. She had been trained to deliver a message, but did it in a way that was all her own, in other words, it didn’t sound canned. She also pointed out that I could participate in a web-based survey to give them feedback on my experience. They included a shot at a shopping spree as an incentive. (Here’s evidence of their thoroughness: she circled the survey info, and I’ll bet if I returned that receipt, either for a refund or because I was a secret shopper, someone would be asking her why it wasn’t circled.)
My two recent trips indicated to me that I just didn’t get lucky the first time. While I can’t speak for other stores in the chain, this one seems to be very customer-centered. I can’t speak to what kind of accountability (including recognition) they have, but I did see evidence of hiring service naturals, effective training, and at least two feedback mechanisms (the other on their Web site).
Furthermore, all four employees seemed to enjoy their work. To me that speaks well of their managers, who create the day-to-day working environment that is so crucial to customer service.
Now, I hope I’ve created some positive “word of mouth” about Office Depot.
Without great employees you can never have great customer service.
Richard F. Gerson