Ok, I admit it. Let’s get it out in the open. I am a zombie movie fan. There is something about dead people shuffling around grunting in an expressionless, catatonic state that captivates me. The new TV series, The Walking Dead, is my current favorite show. However, when it comes to catatonic customer service people … well, that’s another story.
Two Saturdays ago I went to an upscale clothing store to purchase a new suit for my son’s wedding. Being a special event and the fact that I haven’t bought a new suit since Reagan was President, I figured it was time. Buying a quality suit was my goal, the money was secondary, not that money isn’t important, but this is my son’s wedding and buying a nice suit would, for me, add to the overall enjoyment of the occasion.
Well, the karma in the store just wasn’t right. Everyone seemed preoccupied, confused and stressed. After waiting for nearly 10 minutes I finally managed to get a saleswoman to help, and together with the help of my wife, I picked out a real nice suit. The Tailor worked his magic and told me to come back in a week to pick it up.
Last Saturday I went back to the store to try on the suit. Again, you can tell something just wasn’t right. There were sales people on the floor and a few at the sales counter. But they were not engaging anyone, just shuffling around aimlessly. Every minute or so a sales person would shuffle by us gazing into space. As I tried to communicate, I could hear a faint grunt coming from the sales person. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but it was definitely a grunt…..maybe a secret sales language? Or code? After a while my wife turns to me and says, “It’s like the walking dead”.
So here we are in the middle of this upscale clothing store, where my original intention was to have an experience what would add to the enjoyment of my son’s wedding, and it feels more like the movie set of “The Night of the Living Dead”.
I did finally find the same saleswomen who helped me originally. I quickly tried on the suit, grabbed my wife and ran out of the store. I was afraid that whatever infected these people might be contagious.
It may sound like I am making light of the situation, but don’t mistake my humorous analogy with a very serious situation. This incident got me thinking about business in general and how customers are treated, especially in our shops.
When customers come into your shop, are your service advisors engaging with them in a timely manner? Are they smiling and acting in a way that makes customers feel special, like family? Are your service advisors doing all they can to provide world-class service, treating people with respect, smiling and engaging in a little small talk? Or are they more like the Walking Dead, arms hanging at their sides, expressionless faces, with eyes staring off in the distance and grunting like zombies?
Let’s face it; being in business is not always a walk in the park. Some days are tougher than others, and we all get caught up with the daily struggles that weigh heavy on our shoulders. But the truth is the public has no idea what we go through and we need to understand that above all the customer experience is what matters most for the success of our companies.
So, where ever you are from now on, whether it’s a restaurant, hotel, on a plane or even in your own shop, pay particular attention to the sales people. See if you can spot any of the walking dead. If you do, tell them they just may be better off auditioning for next year’s Walking Dead TV series, and staying out of the customer service business.