Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Customer Service 101—When all else fails, engage!

A new grocery store opened in our city neighborhood. It’s warm and clean and quite cozy as grocery stores go. I’m drawn to shop there because of it being so close to home and my liking to support local growers and business owners.

Recently, when I was shopping there, there was a problem with the check-out system, which is understandable considering the newness of the place, systems and employees. When the glitch hit—with customers lined up to check out—the cashier fixated on the problem and became visibly and emotionally flustered. Those of us in line immediately became secondary to the cashier’s extended negative experience. I have to tell you that it was downright uncomfortable to watch.

As I finally walked away with my few things to a different check out line, a customer turned to me and said: “Not a very good experience for my first time here.” All I could think of was if the cashier had kept her composure, acknowledged the wait, and simply engaged us, our customer experience could have been even more positive than a smooth check-out experience.

At work, I view the term “customer service” to include any service or interaction provided to others including co-workers, colleagues, managers, and external customers. And I immediately applied that grocery store experience to what I observe in the varied workplaces I have the opportunity to visit.

So here’s what I’m reminded of often and what I took away from this brief experience. Our composure mixed with a genuine intent to serve will go a long way, whether we’re dealing with external customers or a manager or co-worker. When frustrations arise….take a breath, reconnect with your intent to serve, and engage those that you’re serving.


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