For better customer service, try losing the headset

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For better customer service, try losing the headset

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How headsets can reduce your sales…

Recently, I experienced worse customer service resulting from attempts to improve customer service, with the inappropriate use of headsets.

The supermarket

During our weekly visit to the supermarket, we had were packing bags on the far side of the checkout. The checkout assistant was being helpful by passing me an item after scanning but said “we don’t have that in stock, sorry”.

I was perplexed, how could it not be in stock when she just passed it to me? I asked “I’m sorry what don’t you have in stock”. She stopped and looked at me – equally perplexed. Then she realised what had happened and said, “no I was speaking on the phone”. In fact she was scanning our shopping whilst dealing with another customer over the phone. Essentially she was not properly focused on the customer who is actually buying and so delivering poorer service.

The DIY store

In a visit to a DIY store, I needed to buy some silicon sealant. An assistant was standing by the checkout so I asked “can you tell me where I can find the silicon sealant, please?”. “Yep”, said the assistance and went charging off at quite a pace. Honestly I had some difficulty in keeping up. He suddenly stopped in the electrical section, peered at some items and said “we have them in stock from £4.99”. I said “these are not sealants”, to which he said (looking surprised that I was there) “I know, they are on the shelf near to the checkout”. I then noted the bluetooth headset and figured he had ignored me to deal with a customer on the phone, so I bought the sealant elsewhere.

Your most important customer is the one standing right in front of you – especially when they are actually buying.

Here is the message: Your most important customer is the one standing right in front of you – especially when they are actually buying. If you are dismissive to a buying customer, you will damage your brand. Never forget that consumers have choice. A person enquiring on the phone is not a buying customer, and in any event a phone call can wait or be re-routed.

Cost vs benefit

Clearly, the appropriate use of headsets can have a positive impact on customer service.  But inappropriate use can have the opposite result.

Retailers imagine a benefit. A caller sees a benefit. But what about the customer on the shop floor with money in their fist? The inappropriate use of headsets runs the risk of improving service to those that might buy to the detriment of those that are actually buying.

Try losing the headsets and see if it improves customer service.