Being helpful isn’t about pandering. It’s about knowing your job, listening carefully and providing thoughtful, honest advice.
When you come to a shop which sells photo stuff, do you want someone to greet you insincerely, give you a fatuous compliment and offer to sit you down and talk about your feelings? No, of course, you don’t.
Nor do you want to be bamboozled by jargon, deceived by seemingly-endless (but illusory) choice or patronised by sales staff, who assume you’re too naive to know what mirroring is, when they’re doing it or why.
Yet, up and down high streets of the world, this is what passes for service.
Big Companies cause this. They have “Good Practice” manuals written by bureaucrats, overseen by middle-manangement and implemented by minimum wagers, who have no discretion, joy or stake in the business, yet are put into the front-line to deal with the, seemingly tiresome, task of actually interacting with their customers.
These companies seem to have forgotten how important their customers are.
None of this is news. To anyone. It’s just the way it is.
Except, of course, it doesn’t have to be. You could always choose not to choose this.
You could choose to get your free-range eggs direct from the neighbourhood farm shop, your cakes from the local patisserie and your meat from the butchers in the High Street. You could do this, but most of the time, you probably don’t. You go to the supermarket. And there’s nothing wrong with that. You’re just choosing to choose convenience. Which is fine.
But, we all know in our heart of hearts, that this is a horse-trade. We trade the immediacy, skill and knowledge of the independents for the convenience of the supermarket and we, somewhat reluctantly, put up with the level of service they provide.
So, where does Berkhamsted Imaging fit in? Well, the point is...
"Phew, I'm glad there is a point. I was beginning to wonder."
..the point is, that for any business being helpful is a balancing act and a lot depends what their customers’ expectations are. And the real question becomes, what does Berkhamsted Imaging think our customers expect?
Well, first off, we think they expect to be treated like a grown-up and given the truth: rather than handed some fairy story invented by the marketing department. After all, Berkhamsted Imaging lives in the real world, not at 226 High Street, Narnia.
and, secondly, we're not a supermarket. We a small, independent shop that relies on its amazing and loyal community of customers for support.
So, this is how we do it:
- Be nice.
- If a customer asks for help, help them.
- If a customer asks for advice, advise them.
- If a customer looks like they need some help but doesn’t ask for it, ask them if they’d like some help. If the customer says they’re fine, shut up and leave them alone.
- Customers’ aren't always right; but most of the time it doesn’t matter if they're wrong.
and if ever, we don't quite measure up, for whatever reason, just let us know. We'll try try really hard to fix it, because, well, because we haven't forgotten how important our customers really are.
. . .
[ Some time later ]
Don't do it, Roy! We're going to get in trouble.
Ah, go on. It'll be fine. No-one'll read this bit, anyway.
. . .
- Not everyone with an iPad is an idiot.
- Don’t poke your nose in. If a customer wants a picture of their dog’s jacobs or their mother-in-law’s bunion, that’s their business.
- Saying “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” as a prelude to a more obscure joke, is something only you think if funny.
- Respect is reciprocal. Polite, respectful customers should be lavished with care and attention. Rude, aggressive, pushy, lippy, lecherous or dishonest people who think that spending £3.20 in a shop once every 4 years gives them a divine right to be as rude, aggressive, pushy, lippy, lecherous or dishonest as they like, can muthaflippin’ flip the flip off to Woolworths.
- No-one gets to upset Michelle.
. . .