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Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Awesome Customer Appreciation Post!

This is one of those Thursday Diary entries that had a last minute change over the last 24 hours. I was initially going to be talking about my first few days in a new area of the retail store I work at. But then something happened on my shift yesterday that kind of changed the topic ever so slightly.

Some of you who know me best might have an idea of what I am talking about...but it's not exactly what you might think. Confused? Read on!

April 25, 2013

Well, as I type this diary entry out, it is raining. Hard. I mean, enough rain that could fill up a flowerpot or quite possibly even one of those sandboxes or swimming pools. But, hey, at least with the rain falling, I don't have to worry about watering the cedar trees and hanging geranium baskets today!

Yes, as of today, I will have been in the Garden Centre area for a grand total of four days!  And, no, the image above is not our Garden Centre...just a stock image.

You know, I will honestly say this about the Garden Centre. It is a job that is not to be taken lightly. There are lots of perks to being in that department, but there is a lot of hard work involved as well...and that hard work is not necessarily for everyone.

Have you ever tried to cram an entire cedar tree into the back of a small car? I had that experience yesterday, and lemme tell you, I was so amazed that I ended up getting the whole thing inside! But, as long as the customer left with a smile on their face, it was worth the effort.

Or, have you ever tried to load a patio set inside a minivan only to find that the umbrella just doesn't quite fit? It took a bit of creative thinking as to how to arrange things in a way that all the boxes would fit comfortably, but you know what? I figured it out. Actually, the customer came up with the idea himself, and it worked perfectly fine. It was one of those rare happenings where teamwork between customer and employee worked miracles. In the end, the customer left with what he purchased in a good mood, and my stress levels remained at a neutral level.

(The only other alternative really was taking every piece out of the box and loading them in that way...which is a major pain in the butt to do. Trust me on that one. But even if it did resort to that, I'd do it.)

Even something as simple as loading bags of dirt, fertilizer, crushed clay, and mulch into the cars, trucks, vans (and in one case, even a trailer), could be very tiring, depending on just how many things you had to load into a vehicle. My very first experience in the soil compound was one of those instances in which I had to throw all fears and doubts to the wind. Imagine going out there for the first time, and having a car pull up saying that they wanted 40 bags of Black Earth Topsoil!!! And, that was my FIRST experience loading soil into the back of a truck.

But, to be completely fair, I really only ended up loading about half of that. The customer helped me load the other half. And, while we were loading up the vehicle, they were chatting to me about how nice a day it was, and just being very nice and kind. The guy even thought that I looked 25, which made this nearly 32 year old man smile in amusement and pride.

(It seems hard to believe that just a few years ago, I would have gotten so upset over the fact that someone would think that I looked young for my age. Now, I think to!)

Anyway, that was basically the common theme of the last few days in the garden soil compound. I'd load up their cars with bags of dirt, and they would respond with gratitude and kindness.

And, that's really what I want to talk about. Appreciating customers who are pleasant, happy, and wonderful all around people.

Let's face it, for those of us working in retail, you're going to experience all sorts of people. There are going to be some who try to pull the wool over your eyes, trying to scheme their way to huge savings. And, yes...there are going to be some customers who are naturally grouchy, who complain about everything and anyone if things do not go their way, and who have a major attitude problem the minute they walk through the front doors of the store, and who take out their bad days on other people to make their days just as unpleasant.

(Yeah...I had one of those recently. 'Twas not a fun experience.)

But you know something? Who cares about those negative Nellies?

I suppose that I could have used this space to vent about this “charming” customer that I had to deal with not too long ago. But why give them attention? I certainly don't like to reward negative behaviour. All that does is put me firmly into the Nucleus of Negativity I despise so much.

Truth is, I'd rather talk about the customers that did put a smile on my face. Because A) they far outweigh the bad customers in number, and B) they are just simply more fun to talk about.

Why wouldn't I reward customers who treat people with kindness and respect? I know that there are some instances in which some places of employment have customer comment cards in which they can give kudos to employees who went above and beyond to service them (and yes, my workplace is one of those that does). But, I think it would also be interesting to reward customers who give employees kindness and courtesy.

In fact, I'm going to make a really big confession here. I typically am nice to most customers, and I will try to help them out whenever I can, even if there are times in which I don't know the answer. But if you cop an attitude with me at any time, then you will likely see my mood change as quickly as one of those mood rings from the 1970s. I'll still keep my composure and serve you to the best of my abilities, but know that I am silently turned off by you. And, also know that I have never claimed to be an actor, so there may be times in which my poker face might appear slightly disturbed.

Of course, most people never get to see that with me. Because most people that I serve are genuinely nice people!

So, that's why I talked about the coolest customer service experiences that I have experienced. I'd rather they get the limelight instead of the one nasty person.

I'd rather talk about the woman who was so grateful that I helped her find the pesticides that she let out a whoop! She had been looking around the store for several minutes and was getting frustrated, but she asked me very nicely where it was kept, and she looked relieved to find it.

Or, I'd rather talk about the long line of cars inside the soil compound, all of which wanted at least ten or more bags of topsoil, and all of the drivers worked together with me to load up four different cars with dirt at the same time. The teamwork between employee and customers was outstanding. I had never seen anything quite like it in my entire time in retail (not even when I was in the dairy department). It certainly not only made my job a lot easier, but I ended up serving all the customers in half the time in the process!

Or, I'd rather talk about the nice man who just wanted to buy a tree, but ended up buying several packages of seed and fertilizer. He was one of the nicest guys ever, and he actually kept apologizing for taking up so much of my time, and keeping me from other duties! There was no apology needed as far as I was concerned! I was just doing my job. He was the one who actually made me feel great about myself for being such a help to him!

You see, when a customer leaves in a good mood (regardless of whether they leave with nothing, or they leave with a huge order), I know that I've done a great job. Sometimes, the customer can leave slightly unhappy, but at least they're respectful about it, and in some cases, they don't blame me for what happened. And, that's true with every department. Sometimes things happen that are out of our control, and we can't really do anything about it. That's just how things are at almost any business in the world. You just dust yourself off and deal.

I think life is far too short and precious to spend it being negative towards other people. Why would you waste your time making other people feel bad when you can brighten up their day?

Shortly after I had that unpleasant encounter, I had several people who were in fantastic moods and who actually made me chuckle a couple of times! Soon enough, I had “nearly” forgotten how badly that other customer had made me feel.

(Hey...I said nearly.)

But, it has given me an idea for this post in the coming weeks.  I shared with you some of my positive customer experiences (and if I get any more, I will share them here as well). 

I am also interested in hearing YOUR stories.  Have you had customers that have made your day just a little brighter?  I would like to hear those stories too!

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