Monday, June 2, 2014

Too Much of a Good Thing is Bad

By Candy Parks - Vice President, Integrated Insight

I love to shop at CVS on Sunday afternoons.  It’s routine – it’s therapy.  I browse the circular in the newspaper, take my coupons, and scan my rewards card the minute I walk in the door to see if there are extra savings surprises awaiting me.  I see the same people every Sunday – they always greet me as I come in and they remember things about me that I appreciate.  They know I buy diapers for my niece who had a baby.  They know I was out last week because I was traveling on business.  This kind of attention is fine with me.

Last Sunday I walked in and was greeted by someone new.  His greeting was a bit exuberant, and considering I’m a fairly bubbly person, for me to say something was exuberant is saying something.  Not only could I hear him, but I’m quite certain shoppers in all four corners of the store and outside in the parking lot could hear him as well.  Just a bit over the top.  I chalked it up to ‘new guy trying to make good’, smiled, responded, and went on my merry way.

Or so I thought.  I’m browsing make-up, and boom – there he is.  He loudly tells me a story about helping a woman pick out lipstick, but he’s not sure he did a good job.  I smile and walk away.  Clearly a clue I’d like to be left alone.  I browse pet treats and boom – there he is to tell me about his Pomeranian who just died.  I nod sympathetically and move along, wishing he would leave.  I hit the greeting cards and boom – there he is to tell me how smart I am to buy my Easter and Mother’s Day cards early.  By now, I’m more than annoyed.  

I’m all about customer service and being attentive. But hounding customers can be as bad as ignoring them.  When ignored, I’m annoyed, but I can ask for help.  If hounded, it’s difficult to say ‘leave me alone.’  I left CVS that day with a receipt totaling $14.27, far less than the $100 plus I usually spend, having literally been chased from the store.   There are some folks who would dearly love to have someone to talk to and walk the store with them, while others will find the attention overbearing.  Teaching employees to “read” the customer is a critical component of exceptional service, and a skill well worth developing.  

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