"I´m mad! And I know you are, too!" That was the late Eddie Chiles´ catchphrase back in the early 1980´s. Eddie was the owner of the Western Oil Company (Actual slogan: "If you don´t have an oil well-get one!") He made a series of radio spots that were more about his political beliefs than his oil company. But he attracted a fair number of fans who often sported bumper stickers that said, "I´m mad too, Eddie!"Me too, Eddie. Yesterday I went to the US Postal Service (Slogan: "We´ll get around to you when we´re ready!") to mail two letters. I stood in line behind four other customers all of whom witnessed an employee walk out from the back and stand behind the two counter clerks. Here was the conversation he had with one of them.
Employee standing there: "Carol´s in town. She´s at the downtown branch."
Clerk: "Uh oh! You better go clean off your desk. Do you need one of these mailing tubs?
EST: "You´re pretty funny. But I do need to do that"?¦"
This was going on while we five customers stood waiting. Had I been able to read their minds, they probably would have been identical to what I was thinking which was:
If you´re going to stand there talking, Mr. Employee Standing There, why don´t you open up a register so this line will move faster?
I had a flashback to an incident at JC Penney´s last April (Slogan: We’ve put our cash registers in the middle of the aisles so you’ll have to walk around them). It´s why I decided to write this blog. I was waiting behind two other customers as a slower-than-molasses cashier tried to ring up a sale. Meanwhile, not 15 feet away, two other employees were chatting with each other ignoring us.
Now, in both cases these employees may not have been authorized to cashier. But we, the customers, didn´t know that. Our perception was that employees were wasting time when they could have been ringing up our purchases.
In both cases, by the time I had finished my transactions, I wasn’t as mad as Eddie Chiles, but I was disgusted. And the important part is, I’m not about to create any positive word of mouth about either organization. In Penney’s case, thanks to a later bad example of customer service, I’ve not done any business with them at all.
If you´re in retail or the hospitality industries, train your employees to be aware of the perceptions they may be creating.
Bottom line: Consider how your customers perceive you, your business, and your employees. Then do something about it.
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Thanks for reading. Catch you next week:-)