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A helpful blind man

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“Excellent customer service is the number one job in any company!”

File image: AP Photo/Douglas C Pizac

COLUMN: Grey Mutter

THE OTHER day, my dear Momsy solicited my help to go shopping for blinds for the kitchen windows. Weary of the curtains that have been a fixture for such a long time, she needed my help to choose the right colour, type and sizes.

So off we went on our shopping trip on a Wednesday – pensioners’ day at this particular store. We had been in the aisle for just a few minutes looking at and comparing the different options and prices when the young gentleman in charge of running the department walked over and offered his help.

Immediately I felt myself tensing up. My experiences with sales staff have generally been frustrating and I held no high hopes for this young and seemingly cocky man. I groaned inwardly and told him that we were looking for blinds and we’d call him if we needed help. He nodded his understanding and stood back.

Eventually, after some discussion and debate with Momsy we chose the blinds that we thought was both stunning and reasonably priced. Only then did my Mom call the young man over to tell him that her pensioner’s card would not scan at the till, and started rummaging through her bag for it … it wasn’t there. She had left it at home.

The young man assured her that it would not be a problem and invited us to follow him to the customer services counter, where the nice young lady explained that there was no way the store could give my Mom her discount since she didn’t have her card with her. The young man got a bit edgy. “But can’t the ‘mommy’ just give you her ID number and you check it on the system,” he asked.

The lady was adamant. It could not be done. The whole system had changed, she said, and it was the computer’s fault. She told my Mom to fill out a form to apply for a new card. This meant she would miss out on the discount for the blinds.

The ‘blind-man’ wasn’t satisfied. He went over to a more senior staff member; one who he believed knew more than the younger lady at the desk in the corner. However, the second lady wasn’t enthusiastic at all. In fact, she looked bored. She didn’t acknowledge us, the customers standing a mere socially acceptable two metres away. As our ‘blind-man started explaining our problem to her she immediately started shaking her head as if to say, “Before you go on and waste your time, this can not and will not be done today … pay the full price and get it over with.”

I offered to drive my Mom all the way home to get her card, but the young man didn’t like the idea. “No, it’s too far. Just give me two minutes,” he said and went back to customer services.

Long story short, it was possible. It took a bit of effort on the ‘blind-man’s’ part, but by arguing and reasoning and being tenacious, he eventually wore his colleagues down and my Mom walked out of the store with her blinds, her 10 percent discount and loads of admiration for the helpful, polite, customer-orientated young man.

As I drove her home Momsy could not stop speaking about how excellent his attitude and service was. He had blown her mind. But I reminded her that all he did was what every staff member in that store should have been doing. The ‘blind-man’ had made a sale for the store during an extremely difficult economic time. He also ensured that every person my mother spoke to about blinds would get a personal referral to that store.

The other staff members who seemed disinterested and dismissive could learn from that ‘blind-man’. It’s sad that his attitude had to be the exception to the rule. Imagine the impact that a business could make on customers in these tough times if they made the customer feel a little bit more valued. Then imagine how happy clients could boost the business especially at a time when businesses are struggling to survive.

I remember an old motto that was posted in a store I used to visit: “Excellent customer service is the number one job in any company! It is the personality of the company and the reason customers come back. Without customers, there is no company!”