A Simple Way to Happier Customers

A few nights back I drove (way too fast, ahem) towards Hollywood Video to pick up a few DVDs. The time was 11:57 when I pulled up to the curb and hopped out of my car. As I approached the door, the clerk on the other side noticed me, raced towards the door and quickly slammed the lock shut while doing his best not to make eye contact.

It got me thinking about another experience at Borders.

I’m a night person. I love books. I love going to Borders at 10PM, and staying until the 11PM closing bell. But it’s not unheard of for me to get in the door at 10:50 with a big list of books to grab and buy. Usually, I’m greeted with cold stares from the folks whose wages I pay. Just once, I’d love to hear across the loudspeaker:

“It’s 11PM and we’re closed, but if you love books as much as we do, you might need just a couple more minutes to decide on your purchases. Go ahead. The doors are locked but we’ll keep the registers open for just another 5 minutes. Make your selections and come on up.”

The truth is they are already keeping the registers open at both Hollywood AND Borders the extra five minutes, because there are customers who stay until the last minute and need the time to checkout. Local retailers: Why not teach your people to turn it into … yet another reason … to love your store; instead of making your customers feel like they are ruining your employees’ nights?

Little things count!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Fullfatfairy July 4, 2010 at 9:43 pm

fab article but i have to disagree – i work in a shop, i am good at my job and always happy to help and when we get customers in at the last minuet, we never rush them and all customers leave happy and come back. But do you know how hard it is to be on your feet for 8 hours plus a day usuly for minimum wage and no commission serving rude people that cant usuly be bothered to acknowledge you or say please or thank you, and then people wonder in at the last minute not caring if you have to pic up the kids, catch a buss, look after older family members, get to important appointments etc. I dont see this as “A Simple Way to Happier Customers” but rather an idea that customers that cant be bothered to go in to a shop for the other 8+ hours that its actuly open would like to see happen. what happens when people know they have an extra 5 minuets and closing time goes to 11.05 then will you want another 5?
rant over

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2 Anonymous June 15, 2005 at 6:06 pm

I had a really great experience at a local Walgreen’s. I had previously delivered seven rolls of film to be developed by their photo lab.  When I arrived a few days later to retrieve the pictures, I was informed that they could not be located.  The courteous cashier searched diligently for the film as her line began to lengthen.  It was approximately twenty minutes before closing, but she managed to keep her cool.  After several searches through buckets of photographs by the cashier, the manager walked over and noticed the swelling checkout line and offered to take over the hunt for the missing photos. Sensing my distress over the 7 missing rolls of film, the manager was reassuring, and kind. As I grew slightly irritable, he extended every possible courtesy to help locate my photos. 

Needless to say, I was extremely embarrassed when he informed me that I had indeed left my film at a Walgreen’s, but it was the store a few miles away.  In a situation when most managers would have been greatly annoyed, he called ahead and arranged for my photos to be ready when I arrived.  This kind of customer service is rare nowadays, which is why I did not hesitate to write a letter to senior management conveying my experience and my sincere appreciation for the great customer service I received on that night.  Consumers are four times more likely to report bad experiences as opposed to good experiences.  This is an unfortunate statistic because many great customer service representatives will remain unrecognized.
——-

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3 Anonymous June 15, 2005 at 11:06 pm

I had a really great experience at a local Walgreen’s. I had previously delivered seven rolls of film to be developed by their photo lab.  When I arrived a few days later to retrieve the pictures, I was informed that they could not be located.  The courteous cashier searched diligently for the film as her line began to lengthen.  It was approximately twenty minutes before closing, but she managed to keep her cool.  After several searches through buckets of photographs by the cashier, the manager walked over and noticed the swelling checkout line and offered to take over the hunt for the missing photos. Sensing my distress over the 7 missing rolls of film, the manager was reassuring, and kind. As I grew slightly irritable, he extended every possible courtesy to help locate my photos. 
Needless to say, I was extremely embarrassed when he informed me that I had indeed left my film at a Walgreen’s, but it was the store a few miles away.  In a situation when most managers would have been greatly annoyed, he called ahead and arranged for my photos to be ready when I arrived.  This kind of customer service is rare nowadays, which is why I did not hesitate to write a letter to senior management conveying my experience and my sincere appreciation for the great customer service I received on that night.  Consumers are four times more likely to report bad experiences as opposed to good experiences.  This is an unfortunate statistic because many great customer service representatives will remain unrecognized.——-

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4 Anonymous June 14, 2005 at 9:07 am

Michael, excellent post. I think we’ve all had that happen to us many times. I contrast it with the experience of dining in one of my favorite restaurants when the clock is darn close to closing time. I ask our server about it and she says “no problem, take your time. We’ll be here for hours cleaning up anyway.” It could be that she was just being nice (and she really wanted us out of there!) but you’d never know it. I prefer to believe her comment was sincere and came from the fact that she simply enjoyed her job and the people she worked with, both customers as fellow employees. Either way it sure made for a pleasant dining experience.

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5 Anonymous June 14, 2005 at 4:07 am

Michael, excellent post. I think we’ve all had that happen to us many times. I contrast it with the experience of dining in one of my favorite restaurants when the clock is darn close to closing time. I ask our server about it and she says “no problem, take your time. We’ll be here for hours cleaning up anyway.” It could be that she was just being nice (and she really wanted us out of there!) but you’d never know it. I prefer to believe her comment was sincere and came from the fact that she simply enjoyed her job and the people she worked with, both customers as fellow employees. Either way it sure made for a pleasant dining experience.

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6 Anonymous June 13, 2005 at 3:06 pm

A few years ago, I stopped at a franchise haircut salon at 20 minutes before quitting/closing time.  I was greeted by the two cutters with “I’m sorry… we’re closed.”  When I pointed out that the official closing time was 20 minutes away they told me that they probably wouldn’t finish in time. 
The franchisee was very interested in my story when I called him the next day. 
Know the sad part?  I’m a generous tipper.  Had either of them just done the job they were hired to do, I’d have made it well worth their time.

Reply

7 Anonymous June 13, 2005 at 8:06 pm

A few years ago, I stopped at a franchise haircut salon at 20 minutes before quitting/closing time.  I was greeted by the two cutters with “I’m sorry… we’re closed.”  When I pointed out that the official closing time was 20 minutes away they told me that they probably wouldn’t finish in time. 
The franchisee was very interested in my story when I called him the next day. 
Know the sad part?  I’m a generous tipper.  Had either of them just done the job they were hired to do, I’d have made it well worth their time.

Reply

8 Anonymous June 13, 2005 at 5:06 am

Garrick,

My point is the owners should build the extra time into the time allowed for employees to close and leave. If they normally get out at 11:30, make ‘em plan on 11:45. And make it clear that scowling at the customer is never an option. grin

Michael

P.S. I absolutely do NOT believe the customer is always right. But I do believe in rewarding people who are behaving and respectful with little perks here and there.

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9 Anonymous June 13, 2005 at 10:06 am

Garrick,
My point is the owners should build the extra time into the time allowed for employees to close and leave. If they normally get out at 11:30, make ‘em plan on 11:45. And make it clear that scowling at the customer is never an option.
Michael
P.S. I absolutely do NOT believe the customer is always right. But I do believe in rewarding people who are behaving and respectful with little perks here and there.

Reply

10 Anonymous June 13, 2005 at 3:06 am

You’re right, the register still stays on after the doors are locked, locking the doors is just the beginning of a process. Not the end. The clerks know this. They also know 5 minutes is a slippery slope when you want to get home to your family.

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11 Anonymous June 13, 2005 at 8:06 am

You’re right, the register still stays on after the doors are locked, locking the doors is just the beginning of a process. Not the end. The clerks know this. They also know 5 minutes is a slippery slope when you want to get home to your family.

Reply

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