Greenhouse Canada

Features Business Retail
Service with a smile


September 1, 2009
By Amanda Ryder


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A recent experience at a local grocery store got me thinking about customer service and how one bad experience can really stand out for a shopper. When I made my way through the checkout line, I wasn’t greeted, smiled at or even acknowledged. The only verbal exchange from my miserable clerk was a quick “yep” and a blank stare. Many weeks later, the experience still stands out in my mind and I’ve shared the story with family and friends.

A recent experience at a local grocery store got me thinking about
customer service and how one bad experience can really stand out for a
shopper. When I made my way through the checkout line, I wasn’t
greeted, smiled at or even acknowledged. The only verbal exchange from
my miserable clerk was a quick “yep” and a blank stare. Many weeks
later, the experience still stands out in my mind and I’ve shared the
story with family and friends.

Turns out, I’m not the only one grumbling about poor service. An August
2009 poll by Ipsos-Reid found that Canadians are among the
industrialized world’s worst complainers when it comes to inferior
service. Forty-four per cent of Canadians have complained about a
product or service in the past year alone. No doubt some of these
experiences – using my own as an example – have occurred at a business
that prides itself on customer service. This goes to show that it’s not
good enough to say that you deliver outstanding service, without
ensuring that you actually do.

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So what can you do in your garden centre to make sure smiles and
chipper attitudes don’t fall by the wayside? It starts with your
employees. Provide them with a happy workplace – reward them with a
surprise pizza when they work late or send them home a half hour early
on a sunny Friday or Saturday. Give them free plants to take home (and
not just the damaged product) so they can get to know the product they
are responsible for selling. Create an easygoing atmosphere so smiles
aren’t forced and work isn’t a place just to pick up a paycheck. Put
faith in your staff and grant them a “can-do” attitude that lets them
solve minor problems on the spot without having to always check with
the boss (perhaps customer issues that range $30 or less).

Customer service is all about going the extra mile. Put aside time to
sit down with your staff and look at the services you can offer to make
someone’s day. Get employees to share their stories of both bad and
great customer service and discuss how it made them feel so they know
the impact of their actions. Talk about customer requests you’ve had in
the past – it could be a carry out service, making a delivery or even
taking care of a client’s plants while they’re away on vacation. If
there’s information that customers are always looking for, think of how
you can get it to them quicker. This month’s profile Marigold Nurseries
offers a directory that pinpoints where each plant can be found in the
busy spring rush. This minimizes frustration and line-ups and also
frees up employees so they can field other inquiries.

We all have our bad customer service stories. The good news is that
these experiences help us to appreciate great service even more. You
better believe that next time I go grocery shopping and the clerk
greets me with a great big grin, it won’t go unnoticed.


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