How to Improve Customer Service: Serve Your Mum

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Googling ‘How to Improve Customer Service’ and ‘Improving Customer Service’. There is No End of Top Tips, Training Courses, and Advice. In This Man’s Opinion, None Will Ever Surpass the Training I Once Witnessed…

I was working in a supermarket store in my late teens, whilst I studied at college. Occasionally I was asked to help out behind the Delicatessen counter. I enjoyed it because it was more interesting than just stacking the shelves. At breakfast, in the canteen the assistant Deli Manager was telling me that today they had training from head office. Her eyes rolled because she’d been running supporting Sheila to run this counter for over 20 years, and between her and Sheila there was nothing they didn’t know about running one.

A man in his late fifties walked passed me as I was stacking the end gondola near the counters. The trainer. About 20 minutes later the counters team appeared and gathered in a semi-circle before the counters whilst the trainer shared his thoughts on serving customers. I continued slowly to fill up the gondola because I was interested to see what they would learn. The trainer, Geoff, asked for a volunteer. The dreaded role play. Geoff was playing the customer and Janette was volun-told by the Deli Manager Margaret. Up she went behind the counter.

Geoff strolled up. Margaret froze and did very little of what Geoff had spent 1.5 hours explaining. They tried again with Geoff’s prompts of greeting with a smile, open questions, upselling, cross-selling, and a mnemonic that spelt C U S T O M E R S  W I N but no one could recall beyond the C meaning customer. Again and again, they tried. Geoff was patient, enthusiastic and desperate to impart his knowledge to help Maragaret be the very best she could be. She ‘failed’ in every regard.

Step Forth Margaret

Margaret was willing Janette to do something. Partly, Janette just didn’t get what Geoff was saying, partly she was being watched by all her peers, and partly she was thinking I’ve been doing this over 10 years, there’s no point.

Finally, a frustrated Margaret says, ‘Geoff, may I step in? Only because I know Margaret and I know she can do this’. Geoff gives a reluctant nod with a healthy dose of Thank God someone came to the rescue.

Margaret walks over to Janette, turns he back away from the crowd and tells her that she can do this and that she would like her to do something for her, and would she be willing. Janette agrees and agrees to ‘just be herself’.

Young mother with her little baby boy at the supermarket shopping
Mothers usually do the shopping for the household


How to Improve Customer Service – Serve Your Mum

Margaret then walks over to the crowd and puts her hands on the shoulders of a colleague and declares, ‘This is Janette’s Mum, June. Say hello everyone to June’. They do with a few laughs.

Then Margaret says to Janette, ‘This is your Mum, and she’s coming to YOUR counter. Please serve her’. June walks over to the counter and Margaret greets her, like, she’s her Mum. Big smile, asking how she is, empathetic, service what she wants and then says, ‘You gotta try this Wiltshire ham with breadcrumbs Mum, it’s great. We only got it the other day’. And proceeds to share with her ‘Mum’ about the offers and how she can get a great deal if she buys this with this and this. And finishes with, ‘You know that lovely pickle you made last Summer from Dad’s tomatoes, that would be lovely with this new Somerset cheddar we just got in’.

Geoff metaphorically packs his bag.

Not all heroes wear capes. Improving customer service – tick.

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