Archives for October 2013

Great Customer Service or Prescription Medication?

Customer Service Think Tank hosted by DellIn this day and age where you can barely get a real, live person on the phone whenever you call a company with a question about your cable or cell phone service, anyone who actually makes an attempt at providing outstanding customer service gets an “A” in my book. Even if it’s weird and awkward, as in my experience at a local make-up store, whose name I will not mention, but rhymes with an island in the Mediterranean Sea, just south of Sicily called, Malta.

I took my coupon to the store that rhymes with Malta on this gloomy October day so I could buy fake, spray-tan. According to the can, I am just one easy step away from having “spray-on perfect legs in an instant!” Only, I am not planning to use this on my legs since nobody will see them, but rather on my abdomen because that’s the part everyone is going to be staring at when I make my debut as a belly dancer this weekend. And, since my abs are less-than-perfect in real life, I thought I would take the advice of my dear friend, Vickie, who emphatically said, “If you can’t tone it, tan it!”

So, I grabbed my can of fake tan (that contains God-knows-what kind of chemicals that are supposed to be safer than the sun, but I highly doubt it) and stood in line at the register. The girl behind the counter was helping an elderly woman who was buying a can of super-hold, high-end hair spray. The cashier had a line of silver sparkly eyeliner abundantly applied to her eyelids. The old lady cashing out was wearing barely any makeup and a burgundy sweatshirt that appeared to have been washed more than 20 or 30 times in its life. She had no jewelry and literally paled in comparison to the young, twenty-something makeup store associate.

Cheerfully, the sparkly store girl said to the old woman, “That’s a pretty sweater you’re wearing today!” I peered closer to see if I was missing something. Perhaps there was some embroidery on the front of this raggedy sweatshirt that I couldn’t see. Nope. Just as plain and worn in the front as it was in the back. But, the store girl continued with her compliments about what a pretty color it was, then thanked the woman, handed over her bag of $25 hairspray, and waved me forward to the register.

I walked up to the counter thinking how nice it was that this sweet, young woman did her best to make the plain, elderly woman feel special.

“How are you, today, sweetheart?” asked the girl half my age. Sweetheart? She didn’t say that to the old lady. I’d seen this girl at the register many times, as I frequent this store somewhat regularly, and she has never once called me sweetheart. Or anything else, for that matter. Maybe “ma’am” once. Granted, today I had my hair in a ponytail, had on very little makeup, and was wearing a t-shirt and jeans, so maybe she thought I was 20 years younger than the last time she saw me.

“I’m good, thanks,” I smiled at her.

“That’s quite a pretty shade of green you’re wearing, honey!” she gushed. “And, I love your necklace!”

Now I’m thinking that the store that rhymes with Malta has a new approach to friendlier customer service, where its associates have been told to give each and every customer a compliment – or six. And, being over-the-top friendly and excited to see each and every one of us is also part of this new philosophy. Either that, or the girl behind the counter is now taking happy pills. It was hard to tell which.

She handed me my bag of fake spray-tan and chirped, “Thank you, sweetheart! Come back and see us again, soon!”

I walked to my car, laughing that a girl half my age called me three terms of endearment in less than two minutes, as if she were my grandmother. But, I was also cheerfully optimistic that perhaps friendly, happy-to-help-you customer service could be making a comeback. At least it is where they sell fake spray-tan and $25 cans of hairspray.