Yesterday, I was shopping at one of my favorite department stores, Kohls. I frequently shop there because their selection is good, prices are reasonable, and the customer service is usually fine. However, yesterday was not a day on which their service was to their credit.
I was standing in line to make a three item purchase. As I walked up to the checkout stations, I saw that I would be the fifth person in line for the only lane that was open.
The cashier completed the transaction she was working on, picked up the phone, and over the loudspeakers said “Additional Cashiers please, in Housewares.” She then proceeded to help the next customer.
A few minutes later, since no help had arrived, the cashier completed the next transaction and again requested help over the loudspeakers. She kept her cool and was cheerful and friendly to the customers she was helping.
Again, after no help had arrived, she repeated her request for assistance. At that point, the customer behind me muttered, “Why bother asking anymore? After two requests, it’s pretty clear they don’t care about her or the customers.”
What a shame! Here is a situation in which the team member is asking for help to better serve the customers of the store, yet none arrives.
Because the customers have heard the request and have seen that no help was given, it sends a clear message to the customers that their satisfaction and business is not valued. It also sends a message that there isn’t a support process in place for their associates who are working at the cashier.
It’s important to remember that the customers in your business see and hear EVERYTHING. The way that the company supports and empowers their staff has a direct impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty. The customers in that line yesterday saw a company that does not respond to requests for assistance, even by their own employees. The customer may then infer that when they themselves have an issue that requires attention, they might not get the help they are looking for.
It is also too bad that this example occurred at the point of check out. This is especially important because this is the actual transaction. Here is the point where the customer is actually handing over their money. Anything and everything humanly possible should be done at the point of transaction to make it as smooth and efficient as possible, especially in a retail environment.
The real message here is that it is so important to support your staff and associates in order to better serve your customers. Customer satisfaction and loyalty dramatically increase when your staff is supported when assistance is needed. Empowering your staff to handle a variety of situations also increases the relationships you are trying to build with your customers. When a customer can be taken care of by the first associate they encounter, it is a win-win situation for everyone.