Customer Service Training 101

We witnessed a scene that seemed right out of a bizarre movie, at the mall today.   Upon finding out an item she purchased was broken, a customer asked for her money back.  The cashier suggested the item be taken home and hot-glued to which the customer replied she doesn’t want to buy something to have to take it home and repair it.

“Do I look like a craft person who owns a glue gun?”  she asked.
“You look like a child”, replied the cashier.  The customer then asked her name and was told she didn’t need to know, at that point, the customer turned to another worker and asked the cashiers name.  The cashier then told the customer that she’s the manager and “good luck getting someone to listen to you.”

They returned the money and as the customer was leaving the store, her companion turned to the cashier and said, she hoped the rest of the woman’s day is better and at this, the manager yelled at the customer “karma bitch” and wished the customer and her companion a “miserable life.”  It was an ugly scene fueled by the condescending and hostile tone of the manager who continued to belittle the customer even when others intervened with attempts to defuse the situation.

This was probably the worst customer service I have personally ever witnessed.  Even worse than the time the manager of another store at the outlet mall came to my office and banged incessantly on my glass window even though I was in the inner office with the door shut and a sign that indicated no one is available for a specified amount of time.  In that case, the manager ended up on leave due to a nervous breakdown (according to her staff).

We don’t know what happened in this particular case, however, some of the other staff all seemed to scatter which is never a good sign.

Once back at the office, we read 13 retail workers share horror stories that prove the customer isn’t always right and discovered some awful experiences where common sense, and common courtesy, have been replaced by rudeness, bullying in all its ugly forms, and general lack of support and protection from superiors.

One of these stories, told of a customer threatening to jump over the deli counter and beat the (expletive) out of the worker because they were out of potato bacon soup.  The customer was escorted out of the store by security but instead of having their back, the manager asked why the (threatened) staff didn’t make sure the soups were properly stocked.

Quick customer service training quiz question: When is it OK to yell at a customer?
How about never—does never sound about right to you?

What if the customer is a baby? A toddler?

No, I don’t think that makes it better, do you?

However, things can happen. People–all of us, and this certainly includes me!–lose our cool. Nobody’s perfect all the time. Even customer service professionals, entrepreneurs, businesspeople.

So the question is what to do about your own professional failings: try to improve on them or, alternatively, double down as if customers should take you or leave you as you are.

Read Micah Solomon’s article on Forbes, Customer Service Training 101, when is it okay to yell at a customer?

On this Boxing Day, we saw the worst behaviour by staff  which we wrote about above and the best customer service by another which you can read about here.

As for the manager at Country Lane, if she hates her job or their customers as much as it seemed on this day, we have dozens of competent job seekers willing to take her place.