I walked into the bank to cash a personal check. I had been a customer of the bank for maybe 20 years. It was not the branch where I normally go. Where I bank the cashiers usually give me eye contact and greet me in a cordial manner. I counted five employees behind the counter.
There were five people waiting in line for a cashier. There was one cashier assisting a customer. The others were standing near a computer and seemed to be having an animated discussion. I heard murmuring among those waiting. They were complaining about the bank having only one person cashiering and others apparently trying to solve a problem. I wondered why someone didn’t look up and acknowledge that we were waiting. I also wondered why somebody did not apologize for the delay and explain to those waiting how much longer it might be. I glanced at my watch. I had an appointment. I had time, so I waited. No one was smiling.
Eighteen minutes later the one cashier motioned me to her opening. There was still no smile.
I said to the cashier, “Have you called a doctor?”
“For what?” she said.
“Everyone seems to be feeling bad.”
“What do you mean?”
“No one is smiling,” I said.
“Yes they are,” she said. She still hadn’t smiled.
“I didn’t see anyone smile,” I said, now irked even more.
“You just didn’t notice,” she kind of snapped at me.
“I guess my eyesight is bad, old age is tough,” I said.
We finished the transaction.
“Have a good one,” she said. A vague smile curled her lips.
“It’ll be better outside,” I snapped a little, too.
A line was queuing up again.
The other employees were still huddled together at the console.
Having spent 50 years nurturing customers in the retail business I am perhaps more conscious of customer service. I also know how easy it is the send clients to competition. It’s not like there is only one bank in town.
I remember the 10 years spent with Sears and the completeness of their initial training program. It was an educational experience; first apologize and then solve the customer’s problem. I could have written the policy. The knowledge was beneficial when I opened York Furs at Regenstein’s and then York Furs in Buckhead; don’t ever abuse a consumer, the bad judgment will come back to bite you. A happy customer will often suggest you to their friends. An unhappy customer will tell everybody about their bad experience.
And always smile, even when you have a headache. If you can’t smile then take the day off.
If that branch had been the bank’s only branch, I would have immediately changed banks.
Several years ago I was subjected to an insipid customer satisfaction policy at a pharmacy. I have not been in the place since. My family is in agreement, and they now go to different pharmacies. Customer satisfaction is vital to business. Flawed customer service policies assure a decrease in business.
Big means nothing. Even a little mouse can put an elephant to flight.