Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Perfect Service Quality Loses Customers

I'm going to start by relating a recent set of customer service interactions. Please understand that everything I say is my interpretation of things. This is opinion, not objective facts (but that's the whole issue.)

Jogo Canada a Winnipeg games store that I frequent. I probably go in there 4 to 5 times a year, and I'll spend between $40 and $200 a visit. A couple of weeks ago I'd stopped in to pick up a birthday gift for a friend. I grabbed the latest Settlers of Catan expansion, knowing she was a fan of the original game. Unfortunately her husband had the same great idea. No problem, I decided to keep it, and inquired if she'd tried Starfarers of Catan. She was intrigued, so I promised to pick it up for her in replacement. The weekend before last, JP and I returned to Jogo to do just that. When we walked in the door, the clerk sitting behind the desk asked us if he could help us find anything. In my opinion it didn't sound like he was happy to see us, so I declined, indicating I knew what I wanted. I walked over to the section where the Catan games were, but could not see it. At this point I said that I was looking for Starfarers, but I didn't see a copy. The clerk, brusquely (again, in my opinion) informed me that it was there. I replied that I saw two copies of the expansion to Starfarers, but no copies of the actual game. His reply was something to the effect of "Oh, that's all we've got." By now I was very displeased with the whole interaction. I felt that the service was completely unfriendly. I made one last attempt, asking if they had any coming in. The clerk stated that they were concentrating on other areas, but that I should try the Explore Store in the mall. At that point I left. For good. I won't be going back to Jogo.

Fast Forward one week. Having not had time the Saturday of the Jogo visit, JP and I hied off to the Explore store. There were two clerks behind the counter, neither of whom said a thing to me as I entered. I walked over to the strategy games section, grabbed a copy of Starfarers, and went to the till. The one clerk asked if I found everything, and rang up my purchase while the other clerk bagged it. I probably exchanged no more than 20 words with them but both were friendly. I'll go back to the Explore Store.

So why did I start by saying that "Perfect Service Quality Loses Customers"? Well, based on a 'Quality checklist' approach, I will bet that the Jogo clerk would score much higher than either of the Explore Store Clerks. Let's look at the objective facts. He greeted his customer when they entered and offered assistance. He never said 'no' or 'can't' but rather phrased things in more positive wording. He offered alternatives. These are exactly the type of objective behaviours that end up on Quality Checklists.

He followed the process of customer service, and lost a customer.

The clerks in the Explore Store barely interacted with me but they left me willing to return. I don't know if they had any steps they were supposed to take, but they were friendly.
Process is irrelevant. It doesn't matter if you do the right things, if those right things don't have the desired result. I'm guessing that the Jogo clerk was taking the steps he'd been taught to serve a customer. However the result was a very bad taste in my mouth. I went away displeased, so I won't return.

I spent a few years as a Quality Analyst. I know why the industry creates checklists and focuses on behaviours that can be objectively rated. I also know that none of that creates good customer service.

So what's the answer?

Toss out the checklist.

Ignore the score.

Talk about results!


Anonymous said...

LOL Now Dave, I wouldn't think you would be the person to not go back to a store with only one incedent of poor customer relations with one clerk, especially since you have done a fair bit of business with them on a number of different previous occassions. ;-) Just a bit of "funnin" from a voice from your University past.....James! Im not on blogger but you can reach me at cowbytes@hotmail.com if you like! Take care and nice to see some of your ramblings....its been a while! LOL!

Paul said...

Well, My experiences at Jogo were fairly similar, at one time ti was better but somewhere they just went down hill.

I suspect that the fact the store is no longer open says a lot about the impact of the customer experience on revenue, though there is always other factors.

Game Knight inside a beer and wine shop on St. Mary's is where I am going now, my first experience there was good from a customer service perspective.

We were helped to find what we wanted and they took the exchange with just confirmation of which of theier customers had purchased it as a gift there.

In fact the generate and additional sale as we also bought Munchkin while we were there.