June 16, 2008

Change in the Glass Industry

By Paul Bieber

Sure, you think this will be about Mr. Obama or Mr. McCain and the politics of change. Wrong.

This is about change in your store. Read on—-

Last month I was on a visit to a client and I forgot my small calculator, usually packed in my briefcase. Stopping into a national printing and office supply store I found a $4.70 calculator, which was just right. I brought it to the counter where two young women were talking. After waiting about thirty seconds, I asked if one of them could take my money.

The dirty look told me volumes about their customer service. I handed one of them a twenty-dollar bill. She told me the amount was $5.03 with tax. I said, wait a second, here is three cents. She froze like a deer in headlights, looking at me and then at the cash register. She had already recorded my twenty and had the change amount flashing on her screen. She looked petrified. Finally, after about 15 seconds, I asked if she was all right. She shook her head kind of up and down, and then sideways. She said wait a minute, she had to see a supervisor. She came back with the supervisor who used a key insert to void the sale, and the the clerk reentered the transaction with $20.03 tendered, and gave me my change. I asked her why she called the supervisor, and slowly she replied, she didn’t know how to make change without the screen telling her.

All together, it took over three minutes to pay. Now, three minutes is not that important, but then again, it was. I was irritated that my time was wasted, as was the time of my partner in the car. I was surprised that a national store couldn’t train their counter help to make change.

The moral of the story is: make sure your counter help is trained. When you hire someone, test him or her to see if they can make change. Don’t depend on the school system to do this. Make sure your staff knows how to use whatever systems you have to finish a transaction.

Train your staff to ask if there is anything else the customer needs. Have them ask for their e-mail address for your mailing list. Have them say, with enthusiasm, “Thank You” for shopping in your store. Teach them to say, “And by the way, we sell mirrors for your home, and we can replace your old windows with new low-e, energy saving, windows.”

Don’t let the weakest link in your chain be the last person your customer sees!