Thursday, February 28, 2008

Polar Extremes of Customer Service

Recently I encountered two extremes in customer service. This isn't call center-related, but it's relevant never-the-less because it again proves why customer service is the single most important thing in business.

I went down to the Ikea store in New Haven, CT, wanting to browse some of the room interior designs for ideas. Typically, I've received good service at Ikea, but this particular event was so bad I simply had to post about it. I was looking at a rack of bathroom mirrors, and didn't see the one I wanted in stock. I looked over, and thankfully, there was an Ikea employee nearby. I asked if he'd mind helping me with a quick question. He grunted, rolled his eyes, and told me he didn't really have time. Now, I didn't overreact, or report him, or anything, but I'm sure the good folks at Ikea would appreciate the incident report. When I told the employee to "never mind", he simply turned and went back to what he was doing, with no further communication. I couldn't believe it.

My second experience (a few weeks back) found me trying out a new wing chain in Milford, CT. I had heard of "Buffalo Wild Wings" during various super bowl and march madness advertising campaigns, and I always wanted to try them. What a wonderful experience. Not only did they have great food and a pleasant atmosphere, but the waitress was filling up my soda glass before I was even finished. That's a good sign of a good operation. Three other employees stopped by our booth to see how everything was. They were going out of their way to show us how much they appreciate our business, and it really made the whole experience shine.

I will be back to Buffalo Wild Wings soon, but it will be awhile before I return to Ikea.

Lessons learned here for all. Stellar service rules. In the call center industry, contact center agents should never, ever forget that they're expected to give stellar service. Every contact center should hang a motivational banner as a constant reminder. Maybe the team should all agree on what it should say - that way, all the individual members can take ownership. You can get your banners printed at your local PIP printing - I've had excellent service there, so I don't mind giving them the referral. If you noticed, Ikea got no link love today.

Starbucks yesterday closed its' stores from 5-9 pm EST for barista retraining - an obvious PR move to show how committed they are to quality of service. They left a sign in their drive-through window which read "We are currently closed so that we can improve the quality of our products." It was a bold move, and it is more likely that complete retraining and improvement would require weeks of ongoing training - but nonetheless, it makes a statement about Starbucks' re-commitment to quality.

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