Do your employees know your customers? Really know them?

Fashion pensive teenPicture clothes shopping with a 13-year-old.  But first some background: He has worn only basketball shorts and jerseys as his “uniform” for a few years. Nothing, except his school dress code, could pull him away from those awful clothes. (And did I mention that he was 13?)

That was the task I faced as I headed to the mall.  I wasn’t expecting much even as we walked into a high energy store totally geared for kids his age. In spite of the great selection of clothes, I was still surprised when Nathan told me, “I think I’d like some jeans.”

“Jeans,” I replied.  “You haven’t worn jeans since you were four.”  But Nathan chooses a pair of jeans, and then spots a long-sleeve shirt he thinks he might also like.

”Hey dude, you want to try on that shirt? I’ll get it man.”  A customer service associate spots us.  Steven (I can see from his name tag) has on skinny jeans, a beanie, and a great smile.

For the better part of the next hour Steven helped Nathan choose clothes saying, “Here’s a shirt you might like man. Did you see this pair of jeans? How’s that size dude?” And, “I don’t have that in your size, but how about this one?”

I noticed that while Steven was talking to Nathan and bringing him things to try, he always acknowledged me also, silently passing things by me—just a “what do you think” look before proceeding to the dressing room.

It was magic—all the awkwardness of adult/teen shopping was gone! Nathan made his own choices, (which he felt great about) while Steven made sure that everything he picked would look good and fit well.  He also made sure that it was something that his secondary customer (me), would also go along with.

Takeaways for your company

Most of the things that Steven said and did with Nathan are pretty standard for any good retail store.  But what really set this experience apart for me was an employee who:

  • Really knew his customers
  • Could size up a situation and respond to any situation quickly
  • Worked brilliantly with multiple customers and differing expectations
  • Was well-trained and knew what to say and do

How are your people doing in these four key areas?  Are you providing the direction and support that builds knowledge, develops skills, and gives people the opportunity to shine?

Take care of the people who take care of your customers.  Do you think Steven is well-trained, well-rewarded, and respected at work? I’m sure he is all of that—and it shows!  Does it translate into bottom-line impact and a legendary service reputation?  You bet!  Just look at the five shirts, two jeans, and a pair of shorts we purchased and the stories that Steven is generating from people like me!

About the author:

Barbara Notre is Director of Corporate Communications and Initiatives for The Ken Blanchard Companies.  You can read Barbara’s posts as a part of our customer service series which appears twice a month here on LeaderChat.

3 thoughts on “Do your employees know your customers? Really know them?

  1. Great story Barbara! and an excellent vehicle to talk about our own customer service.


  2. That’s a great story and experience Barbara. It’s refreshing to hear of retail employees going that extra mile to ensure the customer has a great experience.

    This is also an excellent reminder to those in leadership that your team members at the customer level are influencing the way the customers see the company. With his charming attitude and helpfulness, I’m sure he was able to encourage you to buy more than you had planned. Thus creating a better profit for the company.

  3. Great article by the way! One way this salesperson could have done better is to first get both the customers’ name in the beginning and start addressing them by first names. He would have won those customers over for LIFE!

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