We don't head to the movie theater much anymore, with the prices being so high and access to great services like Netflix and XBOX Video from which to rent movies. So it is a treat to take the kids to see a film on the 'Big Screen'. Which is what we decided to do recently.
So I'm standing in line at the cash register waiting to buy some popcorn. Of course lines are a staple anymore at the theater concession stand. That's one way to cut down on business costs; have fewer people there to help paying customers (insert sarcasm here). So at the vacant cash register next to the line in which I am standing a cashier walks up and announces to the entire lobby, "I can help whoever's next!"
Well everyone's eyes start darting around looking at one another with different expressions. Some were thinking, "you go ahead, I don't want to be rude" and yet others had expressions as if to say, "I'm doing it! I'm gonna go for it, I was here first!" Some folks even flinched as if to stake their claim on the newly opened line that will lead to the extra large, buttered promised land!
Meanwhile, with the rest of us engaged in a face-off, a new moviegoer gets his ticket checked, walks past the velvet rope and straight up to this vacant cashier to place an order. Hey, he wasn't next in line, he just got there! The rest of us simply went back to doing what we were doing before the rude interruption; tweeting, checking Facebook, text messages, whatever. This all took place in a matter of 2 seconds mind you. A fleeting moment, but it made an impression on me. Mostly because I am always looking for these situations so as to learn how to improve my businesses as well as learn what NOT to do, as in this case.
So I ask; Do you make your customers fight for 'service'? I'm sure the employee in this example went through some training orientation covering job expectations and customer service. I believe his intention was good, but this individual was most likely simply instructed to offer to help who's next in line. That was it! The focus should've been on the mechanics of this approach. Instead they were just told that's the goal; you should always be serving a customer. Like I said the intention was good but misses the mark.
By comparison, when I go to my local Trader Joe's grocery store they have the same approach; helping whoever's next in line. However, how they go about it is completely different and doesn't make customers fight for 'service'. The vacant cashier actually walks up to whomever is next to be checked out in another line, not just someone at the end of another line. They quietly inform that customer that they will be glad to ring them up and even help escort the cart over to the cash register! One of the many reasons why I love shopping at my local Trader Joe's, they're awesome!
You can feel it as soon as you walk into the store; they were indoctrinated! You can tell because it isn't just the personality of one worker that motivates him or her to help in a particular way. Every employee does it. They are friendly, smiling, go out of their way to help customers. So you can tell that helping the customer has been defined for the employee; it is a part of their culture. They want you to experience something when you are getting your groceries.
So this goes well beyond providing a service to the customer. The word "service" is often misused in my opinion. You "service" your car; you provide an "experience" for your customers! The service I was after at the theater was simply obtaining popcorn. Ok, I got the popcorn, but the experience was miserable! That is what leaves an impression in the minds of your customers; the experience.
What examples can you think of where you have been a customer and the customer service approach made you fight with other customers for the service? How have you provided an experience for your customers that sets you apart from other providers? Post your thoughts and get started talking about creating positive experiences for customers; not just offering a service!