Friday, 6 April 2012

Sell me the item, not yourself.

I am all for people trying to improve their customer service skills. I did my traineeship in retail, and worked in the industry for the next ten years. I enjoyed it for that ten years, but then felt I was heading in a different direction, and needed the change.

Retail is not everybody's cup of tea, in fact, some people should not serve people at all. They just do not have the interest or the respect to do so. Some people are born to sell, and just seem to have a natural knack and gift of the gab. I have worked with a few that could sell ice to Eskimos.

Some though, seem to be confused about what good customer service involves. They seem to be getting confused about meeting the needs of the customer in a friendly, but professional manner, and just being overly friendly.

I had once such fellow today. He was very friendly as he assisted me with my pet supplies. By the time I left the cash register, I had learned of his bad back, his renovating skills, his love of Bunnings, his dancing hobby, the area where he lived, that his dog has allergies and can not eat chicken, and that his girlfriend doesn't know how many cars he actually owns. All of this was very interesting, but completely unrelated to the sale. Eventually, I felt like saying, that's all very nice but I just want to go home to my family, and you are wasting my valuable time. 

I left with the items I required, a little frazzled after being privy to so much personal information from a stranger. I give the assistant credit for being very knowledgeable of the products I required. I also agree that it is good customer service to be friendly, and relate the customer's needs back to your own experience, as it shows you are listening and understand.

I do not think it is professional or necessary to turn the conversation away from the topic. In fact, unless it relates directly to the topic, then do not talk about your personal life at all. It is, after all, about the customer and their needs.

What is your peeve about customer service? I would love to know.