Friday, March 12, 2010

Customer Service- does that mean anything to anyone?

So this morning I had an appointment with the girly doctor (sorry if that's TMI, but it comes into play for this story, I swear). While there, my doctor refilled my Rx for my B.C. Right there in the exam room she click-click-clicked and voila! My Rx was already submitted to my local pharmacy. Isn't technology great? Anyway, after I left the doctor's office, I decided to stop at the pharmacy on my way to work to pick up my newly prescribed B.C. Here's how it went:

Whistling a happy tune, I enter the CVS. (Well, maybe I'm not exactly whistling. My point is, I am in a good mood, feeling friendly and positive and all that- definitely a smile on my face.)

I approach the pharmacy counter. After a moment, a pharmacy technician greets me.

CVS Chick: Can I help you?
Me: Hi! Yes, I'm here to pick up a prescription- last name Bouchard. I just left the doctor, so it just got called in.

CVS Chick turns on her heel, goes to the bin of filled prescriptions and starts rooting through them. I notice she's having trouble finding it, so from my spot at the counter, I decided to offer what little information I had:

Me: I just left the doctor's office about 20 minutes ago, but it was called in while I was there, around 8:30. Not sure if that helps you.
CVS Chick: ... (no response!)

She continues to look through the filled prescriptions, moving out of the "B" bin and on to EVERY OTHER BIN, clearly annoyed. The drive-up window announcement chimes, "Customer at window #1" signaling a new customer at the window.

CVS Chick: (loudly to the other pharmacy staff) Did anyone take a call for Renee Bouchard?
Other CVS Employees: ... (no response!)

The phone starts to ring. No one answers it. The drive-up window reminds everyone, "Customer at window #1." More angry searching for my Rx by the CVS Chick. The drive up window announcement is getting really impatient now. "Customer at window #1." I can tell it's as annoyed as the chick helping me, even through it's pre-recorded electronic voice. The phone is still ringing. Another CVS Chick goes to the window to assist that customer.

CVS Chick: (stalks over to the phone, as she's picking it up, she looks at me dismissively, "Yeah, we don't have it." Then, (into receiver), "CVS, can I help you?"

Ok, CVS Chick, I get it. So we're gonna play THAT game, huh? I patiently wait until her phone conversation is finished. Then,

Me: So, can I ask you a question? Do you know when it will come in so that I can come back to get it?"
CVS Chick: (really annoyed now) I don't know. A while?
Me: (Now I'm annoyed, too) Can you be more specific about what you mean by "a while?" If it's already been called in by my doctor's office, can you give me an idea of how long it might take?
CVS Chick: (Gesturing madly with her arms in the air) I don't know. As you can see, we're busy with a lot of stuff coming in all the time.
Me: (Angry as all get-out now) Fine. Thanks for you help (I turn around and start to walk away) or lack thereof. (Not sure if I said that last part loud enough for her to here. I tried to, but I'm not that confrontational.)

Here's what makes me mad about this whole scene: I am a customer. CVS Chick is in a position where it is her JOB to provide me with a service, namely, filling my prescription, or if that's not possible, pleasantly and professionally telling me why. I believe that is called CUSTOMER SERVICE. Does anyone know what customer service is any more? I basically shop for a living. I buy costumes and wardrobe materials all the time. I'm in and out of stores all the time. My annual wardrobe budget is roughly the amount of a nice, new car. (A Lexus, not a Kia.) That's a LOT of shopping.

While a significant amount of my shopping is done online, a lot is still done in person. On average, I'd say that roughly 25% of the sales people I encounter are pleasant and go out of their way to help me. When shopping for my personal life, I'm an average customer- not too demanding, fairly leisurely and not a big spender. When shopping for work, I'm much more demanding, but the purchase volume is drastically higher and I'm on the clock, so I work quickly and efficiently. I always have detailed, specific lists. I often have questions for sales associates. I often ask for a size not currently on display. I often ask for different colors. I often ask for them to call their other locations to track down an item. I call upon their expertise frequently, particularly if the store is high end. I am always pleasant, friendly, professional and I always sincerely thank them for their help whether I buy something or not.

Are you still reeling from that 25% I mentioned above? I am, and I wrote it! More often than not, salespeople couldn't be less interested in helping me out. If I need to check a price, or a size, or if I have a question about their stock, all to often, I get an impatient sigh, an "I don't know" or an "If it's not there, we probably don't have it." Is it too much to ask for a little customer service? How about a smile, or if they truly don't know the answer, maybe an offer to refer me to someone who might? Aren't these the basics of customer service? When did the customer stop being right and start to become a burden to the store?

I mentioned my costume/wardrobe budget, but to be honest, I think that's an irrelevant point. Whether I'm spending $5 or $500, I should get the same treatment. Correction: EVERYONE should get the same treatment. I understand sales associates deal with difficult, irate customers and that can take its toll. I get that, I really do. But let's be honest- they work in a service-based industry! So as hard as it might be at times, to brush off the difficult customer he or she just dealt with and put on a fresh face for the next one, it's their JOB to do that.

This woman seemed annoyed at me for asking her to do her job. I wasn't asking her to do anything beyond the basic requirements of her position and yet she was annoyed with me. Maybe she'd been having a rough day, I don't know. Maybe she has something going on in her personal life that's upsetting her. Maybe lots of people get angry when their prescriptions aren't ready on time, so she decided to make a pre-emptive "angry" strike against me- maybe that's her defense mechanism. I don't know her deal. What I do know about her is that she is in a customer service position directly related to her customers health and well-being. We're not talking about a shoe salesman, or someone at the drive-thru at Taco Bell. We're talking about someone whose job is crucial to people's health. It's an important job, one we should all respect. Maybe she lashed out at me because customers have lashed out at her and now she's jaded. I'm not inside her head, so I don't know.

I walked away from the experience angry, vowing to call her manager to complain. I wanted justice! I wanted to know that MY needs had been taken care of. It was all about me. Me, me, me! Which basically makes me no better than her, or any other irate customer anywhere in the world. We're so self absorbed and quick to retaliate in life. Someone cuts us off, we tailgate and honk our horns. Our waitress delivers the wrong dish, we knock her tip down a dollar or two. The pharmacy technician is rude, so we snap back at her, or complain to her manager. None of these responses help anyone. So rather than call her boss to complain about CVS Chick's rudeness, instead I opted to do something else. I calmed down, got in my car and headed towards work. On the way, I passed my local Wawa (the best place on earth). I thought about the hundreds of times I've stopped in to fill my car up with gas, to grab a sandwich for lunch or a coffee in the morning- I'm not kidding when I say hundreds of times I've been there. I couldn't recall a single negative experience in the years that I've been a customer there. So, when I got to work, I logged on to Wawa corporate's website and submitted an email letting them know that the employees at my Wawa (#275) are stellar representatives of their company. I told them that they are always pleasant and professional, helpful and smiling. It makes a difference to me. My plan is that from now on, I'm going to try to get fired up about the good customer service that I experience, rather than the bad. I'm sure in the service industry, people mostly hear complaints- I'm sure there's no lack of angry customers asking for a manager to take to task. I somehow doubt there are as many champions for the positive side of things. So now I choose to be one.


Glam Girl said...

I love your writing! Congratulation for your blog!

Beth said...

Personally I think that most people have chips on their shoulders because they are not who they wanted to be when they grew up. I am sure the CVS chick did not write papers in 3rd grade about how she wanted to stand on her feet for 8 hour shifts making $15 an hour in an unflattering labcoat style uniform. They take it out on the rest of us. We are not utopian socialists; we can do whatever we want. Some people just can’t get over their own career mistakes. I see that a lot in my industry. There are a lot of frustrated actors and researchers in academia and they take it out on poor unsuspecting freshmen. It’s sad.

Sorry about the started it!!!

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