Did You Find Everything You Were Looking For?

By Lynn Murphy, M.Ed.

When I was ready to pay for my purchases at my favorite craft store on Saturday, I was greeted by a cashier who politely inquired, “Did you find everything you were looking for?”  He sounded so sincere, like he wanted to be helpful.  So I answered that I had not been able to find the one thing I’d come to buy, and that I was very disappointed. 

I stood there waiting for him to ask another question or offer to have someone check on the item I wanted.  But he said nothing!  Not, “I’m sorry.”  Not, “Would you like us to order it for you?”  Not even, “Tough luck.”  Nothing.  Just silence. 

I stared at the back of his head waiting for him to say something as he rang up my purchases. I wondered why he’d bothered to ask the question if he wasn’t going to respond to my answer when it wasn’t the “yes” he was programmed for.  The message I received was that he didn’t care about my answer, and he didn't really care about his customer.  He asked the question like a robot as he’d been trained to do.

Maybe the cashiers at this company are trained to ask this question thinking that it’s a way to deliver good customer service.  News flash – it’s not!  Is this a question someone thought was a good idea and put it in the training manual?  In reality, asking the question with no follow up made me think less of the company and of the cashier’s customer service skills.  Why doesn’t the company train their associates to think and solve problems? 

I started to inquire why he asked that question, but decided to step back from my natural instinct to be a customer service trainer.  I decided to save my breath.  He and this company weren’t my clients, and I wasn’t sure that delivering a lesson in customer service would do any good in that situation.  I was concerned that I’d get an answer from the cashier that would increase my frustration level.  Better to walk away.  And blog about it.  And post it on Facebook.  So I did. 

Spitting out memorized, meaningless phrases and going about your job like a robot doesn’t get the job done.  To deliver good customer service, you have to bring your brain to work and use it to solve problems.  You have to be present with your customers and engage with them.  Put that one in your training manuals instead. 

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