Customer care – is this helpful or not?

14:51:00 0 Comments A+ a-

I am working in customer care. Since longtime, when the first hypermarket opened in Romania, since 2001. And I can say without any confusion in my mind that this is a topic where you can differentiate yourself in the retail business and also in other businesses. Until now….this is only “bla bla” from my side, now I would like just to give some examples from my career until now and it is up to you to find some clues for you and for the customer care strategy in your business if you have one.

In 2002, I was working in the first hypermarket of Romania and after my working hours, around 6 PM, I went out on the sales area just looking to the customers. It was my normal walking minutes after making several documents for my boss, after the regular work of a director assistant. I was tired and a little bit hungry, but I knew that in 10 minutes I will leave the store and I will go home. I was in the home textile area and a lady, around 60 years old, was stopping me “ I see that you are working here” and she was pointing my badge. I said “Yes, may I do something for you?”. She was looking at me so happy and she said “ Honestly I don’t need any help, this store is so well organized, clean….but I need just to talk with somebody, I am alone, my daughter is living in Spain and I will go to visit her in 2 weeks now on and I want to buy a gift for her….” I smiled to the lady and I said “ I’m happy to hear that, but please if you need assistance or something else…” I hardly said this last phrase that the lady said “Yes, yes, can you just stay with me, you are looking as my daughter, just tell me what you would like to receive as a gift , I don’t know, please don’t imagine that I will ask you something, I have good revenue, I have eveything I need, but I am simply alone, my husband died some years ago and it is so hard to do the shoppings alone in such a big store”. I was surprised a little bit, I wanted to say to her that I have to return in the office….but…come on, I wanted so much to stay with her. I spent with her around 50 minutes looking to all home textiles articles and baby articles and finally she bought several things, for her daughter, for her grandson – because during this time I found out that in Spain she had also a grandson who was just some months old. We discussed about men, cosmetics, food recepies, all the subjects that two women can talk about during hours and hours. When she has the trolley quite full with gifts she started to laugh: “ Hahahaha, I camed to buy just one gift and now I leave with a full trolley, imagine how happy my daughter and her family will be to see me with all these gifts”. I said to her “ If you change your mind, please don’t forget that you can return the products in maximum 48 hours based on the cash ticket, don’t feel embarassed to do that”. The lady was smiling again and she said “ No chance, only if I want to see you again maybe I will do that. Next time when I came in this store I will look for you”. I gave to the lady my business card, I went with her to the cash line and … finally it was the “ good bye” moment. And that was the story. Some weeks later I met her again in the store, she was for shopping again but this time with a lady friend that she met in the airplane when she traveled to her daughter and she introduced me to that lady “She is Ana-Maria, my friend from this store, imagine that she helped me to find all the gifts for my daughter That’s why I wanted you to join me in this store, to meet her….”

In the same year I was receiving  via e-mail, in the special inbox dedicated to the customers, a surprising and violent claim from a customer. He was claiming everything, starting with the assortment in PC-s, the quality of ultra fresh food, the attitude of the employees, everything.  Of course I took the facts and I discussed each topic with all the colleagues involved, I prepared the answer and the next morning the message was sent to him. He replied again with other stuff. I answered again and he replied again. This was taking around 3 days. In the end , I asked him the phone number and the permission to call him for seeing exactly why he is so unhappy about the store. In the next 5 minutes I was receiving a call from exterior, I answered in my regular way, saying my name too. “ It is really  you, Ana-Maria?”, I said “Yes, may I help you? “ He started to laugh and he said “ I am Mr X”. Ops, he was THAT  customer. I was keeping my breath for some seconds and than , with a smile on my face, I said “ It is such a pleasure to have you on the phone. In fact some minutes ago I asked you for your phone number..” he interrupted me and said “ I know, I know, but I wanted to call you and to say to you to relax”. I was a little bit confused and I answered “ Sir, for me it is very important to know what is happening and why you have so many claims regarding our store and of course I want to offer you our solutions” He started to laugh and he said “ Yes…you was the nicest person that I met until now in a store, you answered to me to all my shitty stuff and you are not angry at all. How can you be like that? I wanted to know you, to hear your voice because I was imagining that you are a machine …hahahahahaha” I started also to laugh and I said “ No, Sir, I am not a machine, I am a normal human beeing just doing my job. So what can I do for you now?”. He stopped to laugh and he said “ I don’t have any idea….you know, I am 78 years old, I cannot move from this stupid chair, my son bought me all the tehnology, I have computers, TV, mobile phone, I learned how to use internet since I am sick….and everytime my son is buying me something from a store , I write claims to that store, untill now you are the only person who really answered to my claims….and …that ‘s it, sorry, maybe your boss will punish you because you had to solve my claims instead of doing your job”. I was impressed , but I answered very calm” Sir, it is my job to answer all the customers claims and I am sorry for your situation but meanwhile I can tell you are the most avised of our customers, you know very well your rights, congratulations”. He started to laugh again “ Hahaha, of course, I have all the time in the world and I read everyday the Romanian law and I am very passionate about customers rights, I could be hired by somebody in the area, but I have this handicap….” I was waiting  a second and I said “ No, Sir, you have no handicap and I have to thank you for all the claims sent because based on them I learned a lot of things”. He said to me good bye, he told me that he cannot talk too much because some breathing problems and in the end he told me “ You know, may I write you from times to times, just small claims and you could reply to me with your nice words?”. I was happy to answer him “ Of course , Sir, write me , I will reply you everytime”. He was continuing to write me for some months….and after a while, no more emails camed from him. One day I wrote him just to check how was he. No reply. I avoided to call him because I wanted to remain with his image of a courageous old man just staying in front of his computer and checking the quality of customer care services in retail.