Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A new customer service business attitude

Senior fitness day for me. Tuesday is one of the days I visit a nearby physical therapy establishment for a planned routine of exercise. The weather we’ve had for the past couple of days will make this a good day as the old innards have had a chance to dry out a little.

Unfortunately, we’re told by very capable people who know how to predict these things that we have some unstable weather heading our way. Before this day is done, it will be taking its toll on my arthritis, stenosis, hip, and on and on.

I think Gator Wife caught the Golden's attention.

I made a little visit to Home Depot yesterday to buy a few minor items. I’m not sure what I’ve missed over there because I was stopped by associate after associate. “Associate,” you know, is the new politically correct term for the workers who keep the place running, the ones that make management look good.

I really don’t know how many were on duty yesterday morning, but it was impossible to move just two or three feet without having one literally run over to me to offer assistance. Please note here that I’m absolutely not complaining. It just caught me by total surprise. Seems to me that only a very short while after the color changed from Green to Orange in the store, finding an associate was as difficult as finding the product being sought. I almost thought many went out of their way to head somewhere else when I approached.

That was not the case yesterday. One person greeted me and offered to point me in the direction I needed as I walked through the door. That store in South Portland has a little, very short aisle with some specials one passes past on the way into the main aisles. Three, maybe four, feet after the greet person was another employee who wanted to help me find something.

I entered the store with the intentions of buying just two very small, simple items and knew exactly where I had to go. So I just thanked the employee and told him I was all set. I didn’t head to the tool department because I’m always fascinated with their grills and tractor equipment, both of which are right there when one enters. I do not need a new grill nor do I need any tractor stuff nor did I have any intentions of buying anything, but I like to look.

In both departments an associate scurried over to me to offer assistance. I thanked them and dismissed them and headed further down the aisle. Finding nothing else that intrigued me at the moment, I headed back to the front of the store to head to the tool shop. As I turned the corner, yup, an associate wanted to help me find something. I simply told her I was headed over to the tools but thank her for her care.

Now I don’t just walk directly to a location in a store like Home Depot. Heck, no. One never knows what’s there that he didn’t even know he needed. So my walk was very leisurely as I gawked high and low, always intrigued with stuff I don’t have. I may have inadvertently set off a signal. I can’t tell you how many very pleasant associates, both men and women, stopped me to offer assistance finding what I was looking for.

During one stop another customer was passing by when another associate stopped him. This customer knew what he wanted but had no clue where to look. “Oh, yes,” said the employee, “we have quite a selection of that. Let me take you to it.” The customer suggested he just be pointed in the right direction. The employee responded with, “Oh, that’s O.K., sir. It’s right this way. You may have another question when we get there.” And off they went.

My trip to the tool department continued and in two or three more places a clerk wanted to help me. I knew where I was going and what I wanted when I got there, so I continued alone. In the tool department, I quickly and easily found the two items I wanted along with one of those “I didn’t even know I needed it” ones and headed for the cashier.

As I approached my shopping end, two very pleasant young ladies stopped me to be sure I had found all I wanted. I assured them I had and then mentioned all the times I’d been asked if I needed assistance. I told them I really liked the service as there had been times in the past when I really didn’t know where to look for something. They told me customer service was a new emphasis by the company and, if it is successful, will remain.

As I moved into the self-serve pay lane, I told them this customer found it very helpful, even though on this particular visit I didn’t need it. As I said earlier, I don’t know how many were on duty yesterday, but I think every one of them knew I was in the store.

Then I paid with my debit card. I sure do wish those darn debit card readers would be universal so one didn’t have to figure out a new system everywhere one goes. Hmmmm. Perhaps one of those associates would have helped if I had asked.


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