If you're like me, you probably have a long way to go before completing your holiday shopping. It's such a busy time of year, making it difficult to get organized and get everything accomplished. But time is running out, so now it's time to go out into the cold, cruel shopping world and do my duty. I know plenty of others are in the same predicament, which means large crowds and long lines await.
But that doesn't necessarily mean we should anticipate a horrible shopping experience. According to an article that was sent to me, all that shoppers need is a common-sense strategy to greatly improve their chances of getting superior customer service in the stores this time of year. The author is Judith Schoolman of Reuters news service, and her sure-fire formula is so simple that any one of us can take advantage of it. All it takes is using patience and good manners when you shop. This might be a stretch for some, but why not try being nice to salespeople? Turn into an angel as you go about shopping for your loved ones. Will it be easy? Absolutely not, because tempers do tend to flare more easily this time of year. But it will pay off.
As Schoolman notes, some customers seem to be able to get someone to help them with their sales needs no matter how crowded the stores become. She calls these individuals "service magnets." What makes someone a service magnet? They're "customers who treat salespeople, desk clerks and telephone order takers like human beings and take a few seconds to make a personal connection. As a result, they get excellent service." This really shouldn't be much of a revelation. Treating people with courtesy and respect always pays off, no matter what the season. And it should never be any other way. "Service magnets" also are quick to say "please" and "thank you." Because of their civilized attitude and pleasant demeanor they literally make salespeople want to help them.
In the article, Kristin Anderson, co-author with Ron Zemke of Tales of Knock Your Socks Off Service, makes this point about shopping at this time of year: "You have to show extra patience with holiday help. They may be as frustrated as you are by the volume of business. You could be the bright spot in their day." Anderson is based in Minneapolis, where she is a principal of Performance Research Associates. As she notes, "service magnets" patiently wait their turn. When they are finally able to track down a salesperson, they politely ask if after the current customer is served they could be next. "The next step is to acknowledge the service provider as a person," Anderson says. "Make eye contact, call him or her by name. Allow them to declare how busy the season is and empathize with their situation." It's so basic. Everybody loves to be treated well and wants to feel appreciated. Why would customer service employees be an [email protected] When they're treated decently it's only natural they'll want to bust their buns to give you good service.
It all boils down to patience and treating others as you would like them to treat you and not acting like a jerk. Sadly, there are so many people out there behaving badly that anytime you act like a decent human being you'll stand out in the crowd. And people will enjoy helping you.
To put the icing on the cake, remember to say "thank you" for the good service, tip if it's appropriate, and praise the employee within earshot of his or her boss or another customer.
Charles S. Lauer