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Customer Service:  The Other View

Posted by David A. Couper, MA on September 04, 2014 9:30 AM

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In my previous blog, I talked about how it felt as a customer in two different stores.  In this blog, I want to talk about how it feels from the customer associate side.

In Home Depot, the woman who worked there seemed to like her job.  She was interested in what I had to say.  As a result, I felt valued and I felt that I was respected.  It was also a good day for me.  I was enjoying buying the plants.  It was a lovely day, and although it was warm, it wasn’t oppressively hot.  My gardening project was going well, and after a few false starts with expensive contractors, I felt I was on my way and keeping to my budget.  The store was familiar to me, and I had plenty of time.  So, I started out as a happy customer, and the associate only built on that.

In Lowes, I was not a happy customer before I even got to ordering my new vanity for my bathroom.  I had never been to the store before and drove around twice before I found out where the entrance was.  Traffic was heavy, and it took about 15 minutes just to find out how to get in and another five minutes while I waited for a parking space.  I was also in a hurry.  I didn’t want to waste any more time on this elusive piece of bathroom furniture. 

When the associate continued to serve the other customer, I was ready to be upset.  I felt disrespected, ignored and devalued by his not talking to me.  I also began to see how some simple things – like saying to me, “I’m going to be about 5 minutes with these customers, sorry about that” could have helped.

It brought up old stories of not being listened to in my past.  Not the associate’s fault, but his behavior was not helping my old pattern.  I felt even more annoyed when a woman cut in front of me in the line and did not even seem to notice me.

I am sure the customer associate just thought I was difficult.  Maybe he was right.  I was certainly not a happy customer when I went in and wasn’t when I came out.

But here is a different way of looking at this.  Maybe I was ready for the shopping experience not to be a fun one.  Maybe I was so focused on not having enough time and being in a hurry to enjoy the moment and be okay waiting.  Maybe I set up the situation exactly the way it was just because I needed to learn that if I have to wait 20 minutes in a store, life is still going on.  Children will be born and seniors will die.  It’s how it is. 

This could also apply to the customer associates.  Maybe they were ready for the day to be busy, overwhelming and full of difficult customers.  If that was their vision, maybe that was what they got. 

Perhaps if I could have dropped my perceptions and judgments and they had too, we could have had two great shopping experiences instead of one.

Be a nice customer and make someone’s day!

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