Helping other customers.

Er380LgToday, I went into a store at my local mall to buy a shirt I wanted. The store was nice, the shirt was easy to find, and I proceeded to the cash register expecting to have a pleasant customer service experience. I waited for a moment or two and then noticed the woman in front of me was filling out an application for a store credit card. There was no one else at the cash register counter and it looked like this would be a lengthy process.

I asked the clerk if she could check me out while the customer filled out her application, instead of me having to wait for this entire process to be finished. The clerk looked at me strangely and said no one else was on register duty. I saw other people working at the store, folding clothes and doing things of that nature, but apparently, no one else would help to check me out. I didn’t feel like waiting and walked out.

Besides my occasional tendency to be impatient (ironic for a customer service person, I know), this story shows a few things. It shows that this particular company did not keep this situation (where a customer fills out a credit card application, other customers are waiting, and there is only one employee working on the register) in mind when they were designing their systems and processes. It also shows that this particular employee wasn’t interested in going above and beyond to help another customer.

The first fault was that this company designed their system so that it can only do one transaction like this at a time. Ideally, the credit card application should be able to operate alongside of the regular checkout application. Whoever designed the system should know that it takes time for that credit card application to be filled out and processed and that there is a good chance other customers would be waiting. When designing systems and/or processes, keep situations like that in mind. Keeping things like that in mind is best done by thinking about the experience from as many perspectives as possible, and when possible, asking other people involved to think of the process as well. Chances are, you won’t think of every possible situation by yourself, so tapping other people for their ideas is usually well worth the time and effort.

The second fault is that the particular employee decided not to bother going above and beyond. This is probably because employees at most retail stores are rewarded for getting customers to signup for credit cards and usually aren’t on commission for the actual sale. With that reward system in place, it is in the employee’s best interest to cater to the customer filling out the credit card application. However, a motivated employee could have gone above and beyond (opening a new register, asking someone to come over, etc.). Encouraging employees to go above and beyond is necessary to great customer service.

Tomorrow’s post is about a positive customer service experience.

2 Responses to “Helping other customers.”

  1. Steven Di Pietro said:

    Apr 23, 08 at 7:08 am

    There could be another reason.

    I run a Mystery Shopping company. Many clients ask us to measure the focus and attention given to the customer. Any deviation or distraction can be marked down if the question is poorly created.

    Perhaps the employee was actually engaged and doing the right thing. It may be they are measured on the wrong things.

  2. Service Untitled said:

    Apr 23, 08 at 10:07 pm


    You’re definitely right. The employee was helping one customer, but made no effort to help another customer (me). My issue was with the employee not even trying to help me.