Customer Service Starts at the Front Desk

A company can make the best products, but if customer service is bad, there goes the company’s reputation – and sales. I was reminded of this the other day when doing a few errands.

Service with a Smile From TD Bank

"TD Bank's Penny Arcade"

TD Bank's Penny Arcade

I started at TD Bank, well known for its “Penny Arcade.” It’s an automatic coin counting machine in each branch that saves you the trouble of rolling all your coins. I save all my change in a plastic container and when it’s full I bring it to the bank – it’s usually around $100 (today it was $105.35) and treat it as sort of a present to myself.

Immediately on entering the branch on Third Avenue, a receptionist greeted me with a smile and asked, “Can I help you today?” She offered to help deposit the coins and then asked if I would like to open an account.

After the machine issued a receipt, I brought it to a teller who welcomed me and asked how I wanted my money. That was a nice touch – so I said in $20 bills. Then she also asked me to open an account. Not this time, but maybe next time? I left as a happy non-customer.

Too Busy for a Greeting at Ethan Allen

I walked a couple of blocks and entered the Ethan Allen store where I had bought an ottoman, which needs a minor repair. Two people at the reception desk. No greeting. Just bored expressions. Finally I told them what I wanted and one of them said in an unfriendly tone of voice, “we don’t do that here – you have to call customer service.”

Then she went back to reading messages on her iPhone while her colleague looked up the phone number and handed it to me on a slip of paper. I thanked them and said goodbye. No response. I like Ethan Allen products, but this kind of service doesn’t make me feel good about the brand.

A Helping Hand at Bloomingdale’s

"Bloomingdale's little brown bag"

Bloomingdale's little brown bag

My last stop was Bloomingdale’s to shop for a housewarming gift. As I wandered around the gift department seeking inspiration, a sales person came up to me with a big smile and asked if I needed help. Score a point. I found a very nice tray, a pitcher and some bowls and as I struggled to carry them, she immediately took them from me and brought them to the cash register while I continued to look. Two points.

I was happy with my choices, so she rang up the sale and packed them up. I left with a good feeling about Bloomingdale’s. (I also love the yogurt at the store’s 40 Carrots restaurant).

Burnish Your Brand

Companies spend millions of dollars on advertising campaigns to build their brands. But often the first contact a customer has is with a receptionist or a sales person. These employees need to be trained in proper customer service. Don’t think of this as just another below-the-line expense. Consider it an investment in your brand, which is your most precious asset.


Leave a Reply


  1. Hi Jeannette, It’s Sunayna from TD Bank ( This is a great blog! I wanted to thank you for your compliment to our store and Penny Arcade – we’ll be sure to share the kudos with the Team! Happy Customers = Happy Bank :o) Come back soon to visit us or tweet us!

  2. I enjoy your posts. This one hits the nail on the head! I was fortunate to work in the customer service department for a large pharma company that understood we represented the company and training was fantastic.

    I believe that the correct training and being valued as an important employee makes a HUGE difference in the attitude of the employee and experience for the customer.

    (Would love to see this subject presented to high school students to prepare them for getting a job–they might be tech savvy but there’s no substitute for face-to-face communication.)

  3. Jeannette, loved your blog on customer service. It’s so true that so many companies fail to see the connection between the encounter between the sales or customer service associate and repeat business for the company. It was especially nice to hear about the representative at Bloomingdales who made it even more convenient for you to continue shopping in the store, by taking your items to the cash register for you. Richard Shapiro, TCFCR

    • Rich, i’m glad you enjoyed my blog. You’re the expert in customer retention and understand so well how important that first touch with the customer us. We want to feel that our business is appreciated.