Monday, January 16, 2012

Customer Service: Why You Have to Say Hello

It snowed on Thursday afternoon. Now, I don't know what your town is like, but Cincinnati tends to overreact a bit to inclement weather. This brief snow, already over by the time I arrived, is why I wasn't surprised by the line at the Kroger Pharmacy that day. What did surprise me is that the person in the front of the line had been standing there for five minutes without so much as a "hello."

With any experience you have as a customer, you expect to be treated well. The customer feels they're always right, and even those behind the counter stand in front of it sometimes. The person who comes into your business expects to be addressed. They also expect to trump the person at the drive-up window. It's a fair assumption on their part to be given preference over the deferred, called-in refill as well. They deserve it, too.

However, none of that happened. The pharmacy had a staff of six on duty, one of whom even kept crossing from the drive-up window to use the register in front of the queued-up customers without even looking up at them. When one of the women at the front of the line spoke up, reasonably and politely asking if someone could just quickly sell her the prepared order she could see complete and ready to pick-up, she was curtly dismissed by what looked to be the senior pharmacist. The excuse was that it was busy because of the snow, and she'd be gotten to when they could.

(There's a point, read more...)

That's when I left. In fact, I had my prepared refills transferred to another pharmacy. Why? Because I found this to be disrespectful of the customer, and I've spent a fair amount of time in the Customer Service trenches. I work hard to provide good service, "bang for the buck," and I decided last year to demand that standard from others. It might have been a horrible or hectic day, but that isn't an excuse to just ignore - to not value - the people who've taken the time to walk-in. Especially with a pharmacy. They come in to have their needs medical needs met. Needs that are intimate and taken personally.

I don't know what the average insured person spends on medication co-pays, nor how much the Insurance company forks out on their end. I was the youngest person in line, reasonably healthy, and I know my co-pays reach several hundred dollars a year. Considering everyone else there was older than I, some elderly, I'd assume a safe average of $1500 a year each, maybe even $2000. That's assuming they've got decent insurance and doesn't even account for the families they have, which probably double if not triple that line in number of customers. If everyone were to walk away like I did, a big chunk of that Pharmacist's salary walks out the front door. Couple in what insurance pays and all the over-the-counter resource streams, and the business they lost just from me alone this year is nothing to sneeze at.

People are busy. They're sensitive and sometimes wear their hearts on their sleeves, but never forget your customer. Just saying "hello," and explaining to everyone what was going on would have saved my business. Instead, we were dismissed, so I dismissed that service provider. Your service to your customer is all that differentiates your business from all the competition, both online and brick-and-mortar. Have a strategy when you answer those social media queries, emails, and phone calls. Be present when your in-person. Look for those opportunities to excel. 

Remember the Golden Rule when behind the counter and when you approach it. "Treat others as you would like to be treated," and maybe you'll still be able to make payroll.

1 comment:

  1. Hear! Hear! I'll be attending the April EBWW as well and just wanted to stop by and say hi. I'll be at the "bird" table on Thursday evening. If you get a chance, stop by and say Hi back. Jody, The Medicare Mom,