CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)
Attitude is the best selling point of them all
Service with a smile.
It should be the norm, a virtual requirement for jobs in which you met the public. And, most people who work in jobs where they meet other people probably enjoy what they do, but for some it’s more like service with a snarl.
Some days I think that if I see one more condescending clerk or smart aleck salesperson, I will confine myself to catalog shopping or the QVC channel where they not only smile but absolutely chirp at you while offering you their product.
No wonder many people have turned to shopping by mail or by phone. Not only is it more convenient, but the people on the infomercials are downright ecstatic in their attempt to get you as a customer.
But this was not the case when a friend recently went shopping at a Tupelo hardware store. She was prepared to spend big bucks on paint, wallpaper and other supplies to redecorate a house she was moving into.
Each time she would try to catch the eye of one of the two salespeople in the store, however, she was ignored. She even walked to the front of the store and stood in front of the counter while the two clerks carried on an extended conversation with each other and a friend who had stepped inside the door to talk. Finally, my friend just walked out. The clerks watched her go and never paused in their gossip.
After driving across town, my friend walked into another store and was greeted by not one, but two friendly clerks who offered to help her before the bell on the front door had stopped jingling.
Needless to say, the second store made the sale.
Since I, too, must meet and greet the public every day in my job, I have had experience on both sides of the issue. I know that customers are not always right. But for any business to function, including our newspaper, happy customers are a must.
Experience has taught me that the three most important factors in dealing with customers are attitude, attitude and attitude.
I can forgive a waitress, clerk, or salesperson almost anything as long as their attitude says, “I’m glad you chose to do business with me.”
I try to convey this attitude with the people I interview each day, the people who come to us with story requests or ideas, and the people who read what I write. I don’t always succeed in pleasing everyone. No one does. But I try to treat our Journal customers as I would like to be treated in any other business.
For instance, the way I was treated recently at Lowe’s in Tupelo has made me a lifetime satisfied customer of that particular store.
Two clerks in the indoor garden and home decorating section went out of their way to help me during a minor pre-Christmas crisis. The “Noah’s Ark” musical water globes that I was planning to surprise my daughter and daughter-in-law with were sold out just before I arrived. Seeing the disappointment on my face, the two clerks assured me they would do all they could to locate some more.
It took two weeks, numerous phone calls, and some coordinating with another sympathetic clerk in the Columbus store, but with the assistance of these helpful folks, what were apparently the last two “Noah’s Ark” musical water globes in the known universe found their way under my Christmas tree and into the hands of two delighted collectors.
Because a couple of clerks took time to care – even in the midst of the Christmas rush – my holidays were brighter. Their kindness also gave me a more benevolent attitude toward sales personnel. Nowadays, whenever I encounter a clerk with a sour disposition, I tell myself their attitude may merely be the result of their name tag sticking them in the chest.
Then I whip out my favorite major credit card and confide, “I have an irresistible urge to max this thing out.”
That always puts a smile on their face.
Brenda Owen is a Daily Journal feature writer.