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The Psychology of Customer Service Part 3

May I vent?


First let me say, if you run your business in the following example, I understand you have rules by which your staff must follow – but never at the expense of a customer. 


But I digress..


My family and I went out for dinner one evening, there were about seven of us.  Now I consider myself a proponent, well usually unless it is Christmas shopping then I have issues – I’m in therapy.


As we started to order I noticed the menu allowed for two sides, or one side and a small salad for an additional fee.  Well my thought was, ‘hey, just give me a salad, no other side and we’ll just call it even?’ 


Now bear in mind, I have spent close to 20 years in the food industry in all facets, which included waiting tables and I thought this was a winning order.  Wrong! 


The server promptly told me that was not an option.  Curiously, I asked “Why?” – She then told me, “The computer does not allow for a deviation in an order.”




My first thought was, ‘I did not see “No Substitutions” in the menu.  My second thought was, ‘wrong answer’ – the correct answer would be, “Let me check and see”..   Surely, I am not the first patron to ask for such, or, maybe I was..?


When did we rely on a machine to dictate what a customer gets?  If I had asked for something off the menu and unreasonable, then I would understand.  But in reality that server never went to bat for me.  She would not take the extra step to see if it were possible to help a customer.


I know what you are thinking, ‘he sounds like a Prince, expecting to be catered to.’  And that may very well be true, but when someone tells me they can’t fill an order because the computer won’t allow it, and then not even try to accommodate – well I never!


The problem is this happens more than you think. 


I look for the good and bad aspects of service in different businesses, to help in my training.  And what it boils down to is, as service providers; we are getting lazy. 

Not only in retail but all service industries as a whole.


Computers have allowed us to conveniently be lazy.


How do you feel when you trade with a company, either personal or business and the computer dictates the outcome?


We have lulled ourselves into the excuse why we can’t go the extra mile for that customer, “I would love to help ya, but it is Thursday, your last name starts with an ‘H’ and the computer says not to help you today!”


I know that is extreme, but this is exactly what we are telling our customers.


Question – who are we trying to please, the computer or our customers?  I know the computer helps and is necessary in inventory, pricing, efficiency, etc.., but not at the expense of a customer.  Does the computer tell you the costs of losing that customer?


Have you ever walked in a place and what you needed was not on the shelf?  Then a service representative walks up and asked, “Do you need some help?”  And you reply, “Yes, because what I need is not on the shelf.”  Then that person says, “Let me check in the back.”  And they pop out of the back and say, “Is this what you need?”


I love that!

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