I Can't Believe It Still Happens!>I love Spring. Even if it means that I'm in for mowing the lawn for the next 8 months! Every year, I take my lawn mower in for service, so that I'm ready for the bermuda grass that grows faster than I would like. To get my lawn mower serviced each year, I take it to my local hardware store – and yes, you'd recognize the franchise name.
A few days later, my lawn mower was ready, and I went to pick it up. It was a visit that I won't soon forget. This hardware store always has a lot of people working in the store, and today was no exception. In spite of an abundance of employees (Yes, I'm using that "e" word for this story.), no one greeted me as I entered the store.
At the "repair counter window," there were 3 employees, sitting on their stools. Two were waiting on Customers, so I figured my odds were pretty good: 3 hardware store employees - and only 2 other Customers. The employee that was "available," did all he could to "look busy" for a couple of minutes, not even looking up to acknowledge my presence. The other two employees did nothing to make me feel welcome either.
Finally, the "available" employee walked over to the counter, looked up at me - and pointed at me! That's right - he did not say a word, he just pointed his finger at me as his way of saying, "You're next, and I could care less." I handed him my claim ticket, and he went to his file, searching a couple of minutes for my paperwork. I began to think that they had lost my lawn mower...
The first positive part of this experience was when the "wordless" employee pulled my paperwork out of his file, walked back over to the counter and handed it to me. Without ever saying one thing to me, he walked away from me. I don't remember the last time that I have been this neglected in a situation where I was in the role of a "Customer."
It won't surprise you to know that the story does not end here. I walked up to the sales counter, which had 2 cash registers and only 1 of them open for business. This, in spite of the fact that there were 4 people in line. To make matters worse, there were two people behind the counter, one of them talking on the phone. And yes, it seemed to be a "personal" call. Nothing to do with the hardware store.
When I finally made my way to the front of the line, the girl behind the counter was chewing gum. I guess it's from my 3 years of working at J.C. Penney while I was in college, the sight of someone chewing gum while working in a retail store makes me want to scream! The final straw came when I handed the clerk my check. In spite of the fact that I have been bringing my lawn mower to this same store for the past 10 years, she still needed to see my driver's license as an ID. I understand that there are a lot of "bad checks" out there, but it seems to me that if the owners of this hardware store have a "regular" Customer over a period of 10 years and this person has never given them a bad check, the chances were that I was not about to give them one now.
I guess I should be thankful that this lack of Customer Service is still so common in business today. It’s one reason that businesses hire me to teach them about “Service With Shazam.” Yet, I am always amazed when I find a business – especially one that is not part of a large chain – that allows this type of experience to happen. I’m sure that Home Depot and Lowes are happy that this independently owned hardware store makes it so easy for them to continue to thrive.
My question is this – How can any business owner allow this type of service to exist? How can they be so “blind?” How can they care so little about the experience that will drive this Customer to a competitor next Spring? I'm sure this hardware store owner complains about the "Goliaths" all the time. Perhaps he or she should look in the mirror instead.
© 2004, Mark Mayberry