Great Customer Service Or Lack Of Service Could This Be Your Store?

As part of our preparation for the holiday season, I asked my staff to review their experiences while shopping their favorite stores in the community. I sent five members of my team out to five stores. With cash in hand, off they went.

This is what my team members shared with the group on their return:
  • Out of five stores, they were greeted twice.
  • Out of those two stores, one employee welcomed us to the store. At the other store, the employee said hello and went back to their cell phone conversation.
  • In the three stores that did not greet us, the staff was engaged in tasking, on their cell phones, or talking about how bad they hated the company and/or Manager for whom they worked. They never engaged us or talked to us about any of the promotions that were in the store. (Keep in mind we all had cash in the hand yet we walked out of the store without making a purchase.) No one said goodbye or thanked us for coming in.

Let’s go back to the store that actually greeted us. The associate eyed the cash in hand and asked good questions to find out our needs. We were shown several similar items and the associate directed us to the dressing room. The associate asked if we needed a belt to try on with the pants. We were also told that they would be right outside the dressing room if we needed another size. We were told about the promotions and told we could save 20% in addition to the promotion if we opened a credit card today. After filling a rather large bag with our purchases and thanking us for coming into the store we were handed a business card. Needless to say, we called him later and offered him a job.

One out of five stores gave us great service. Four stores gave us no service at all. All of the four stores were chain stores. This begs the question of how are these stores doing financially that they can pay an average of five employees a store to do nothing? Is this bad service acceptable to them? After a little online research, I found that all of these companies were at risk financially. It came as no surprise that the store with great customer service was doing well in the retail world.

Point of View:

A lot is being written on why retail is struggling. I suggest the CEOs get out of their offices and visit the stores. Someone is not hiring the right people and not giving them training. The biggest question is where were the store managers? To the store that gave us world class customer service, thank you. I will go back and be a customer. To the other stores, we did go back and got more of the same.

This was a valuable lesson to my staff to see firsthand what happens in different stores. It answered the question asked before sending them out to shop the stores, tell me what Customer Service looks like.


Larry Tyler
Larry Tyler
Awaken the possibilities … then unleash them. After 55 years of successful retail management, I have returned to my passion of writing. I write Poetry, Storytelling, and Short Stories. As a child, I grew up on front porch storytelling. I would sit and listen to my Dad and his brothers tell these great stories that were captivating, and I always wanted to hear more. I wanted to experience the things they talked about. I started writing at a young age and reading everything I could get my hands on. At twelve years old I started a storytelling group and several of my friends became writers or poets. At 16 I hopped box cars and worked the tobacco fields, orange groves, picked cotton, and spent many nights around a campfire listing to life stories. Someone once asked me why I wrote. It consumes an amazing amount of time and I assure you it is not going to make me rich. I write so that my children can touch and feel my words telling of the ones that came before us and the stories they told me. These are the chronicles of our family and even though they come from my childhood memories and are deeply rooted in a child’s remembrance at least they may feel what it was like in the time before them and cherish the things the elders left behind. I am a Columnist & Featured Contributor, BIZCATALYST360 and I have The Writers Café, a group on LinkedIn that features Poets, Writers, Artists, Photographers, and Musicians . On Facebook I have two groups and one page; Dirt Road Storytelling, From Abandoned To Rescue Dogs And Cats, and About Life, Love And Living. As writers, it is true that we honestly do not know what we hold within us until we unleash it. When our words inspire others only then will inspiration return to the writer. I will spend my twilight years in search of the next story, the next poem, and the next image. I will take the time to enjoy my Wife, our Dogs, and Cats, and our amazing new home and I will always find the time to walk down a dirt road I truly hope is that I never have to read another book on Leadership, be on a conference call or see another plan o gram as these were the tool for what I did in life and not about who I am.

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  1. Larry, it is the old bit that a fish stinks from the head down. The problem and the fix have to start at the head, then progress to the store manager, then to the line personnel. One can’t blame bad service on the employees if they haven’t been trained and aren’t supervised. Brick and mortar stores are under a great deal of financial pressure from internet sources. High rent, insurance, property taxes, and having to charge sales tax just for starters. Poor service just caps the certainty of their demise. It should also be noted that there is a fine line between customer service and over-servicing. I hate it when an employee hovers over me. Just let me know I’m appreciated and that you are there for me if I need help, have questions, or want suggestions.

  2. I had a similar bad experience when I went into a ladies’ boutique with the intention to buy ans the two young ladies, who were deep in conversation discussing personal business totally ignored me as I walked around. Until I turned to leave. Then they asked if they could help. At that point I said, No thank you, and walked out.

    Is it any wonder they’re losing business but can’t understand why? Training by management is essential. Also it’s management’s responsibility to ensure their first customers, their employees. are happy.

    Thank you, Larry.

  3. To become a “professional”, ie a skilled and competent operator, in the current world of retail trade special knowledge and ability to relate with people are necessary, essential to ensure an efficient service “personalized” to the customer. Every person loves to be treated in a particular way and will become a loyal and faithful customer of those who will be able to ensure that something more that makes it unique.
    Salespeople who know how to create a positive impression for the store, supermarket or department store where they work, must possess these skills if they want to succeed successfully in an increasingly competitive market, dominated by promotional campaigns and discounts. But these skills are not innate: they are acquired in a complete way, as well as faster and at the cost of fewer mistakes, with the training and the will to learn continuously, keeping up to date. And every executive should monitor that his employees are able to give the first good impression|

  4. Retail is the most striking example of the digitization trend of the customer’s journey; any sector where there are points of contact between people today is invested by the same challenges and opportunities. From the interactions between patients and healthcare professionals in hospitals to the relationships between financial services companies and their customers, taking care of the customer journey is essential to derive maximum value from their experiences and thus increase profitability.

  5. There is no doubt about the benefits that can derive from a direct perception, on the spot, particularly in retail. There were some television reports on this subject where the head of the company was incognito in its stores and had the opportunity to deepen, first of all, the knowledge of its employees, which is decisive, in my opinion, especially today that the organization is so fluid and globalized. at least this does not happen frequently and the “justifications” are of various kinds. And it’s a mistake because the visitor has always looked around, analyzed, but, today more than ever, he/she loves very much tell his/her own impression of experienced customer, through the word of mouth on the network. That means getting an easy success or ruin of a brand!

    • It’s funny we followed up on this a year later. And the results were almost identical to the one published above

  6. Everyone wants excellent customer service but few of us can deliver it every hour of every day. If we want our employees to give excellent customer service, then we need to hire employees who have the talent for job success as customer service reps. They are easy to identify but we do need to know what to look for.

  7. A couple of weeks ago my laptop died. Because I was under a deadline, I had no time to order one online, so I rushed to a brick and mortar retail store. I was lucky. There were two branches of the same store in my town. So I got what I needed.

    But the way the sales people were in each branch were very different. One branch had no idea what they had and only relied on the computer. At the other branch, the sales people knew what products they carried and didn’t without referring to the computer. I had a much more wonderful experience in that store. I felt well taken care of.

  8. I remember when online shopping started. Many retail said it wouldn’t go far for “touch” items, items that you needed to touch to determine if it is the item you’ll buy.

    What they forgot was that people used to go to the store because they wanted the experience of being in the store. If the executives actually spent time in the store, retail both online and off would look very different today.