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
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
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.