Beware Of The Dogs

It’s sunny today, when they predicted rain. That’s always a good start to my day. You join me on my constitutional walk across Greenham Common (imagine hills, horses, cows and sheep right next to a large town, and you can draw the picture). Coming over the brow of the hill near home, there’s a farm. And on that farm (no singing “Old MacDonald” at this point) there are guard dogs. Every day I pass the farm, the dogs bark at me. And they are very loud.

But that’s not what makes me laugh. It’s the fact that I am at least 50 yards past them, before they bark and snarl. They have to be the world’s worst guard dogs. And I think poor service is like these guard dogs. Let me explain.

I have many real and recent examples of poor service. It’s usually when someone takes ages to acknowledge that I need help, and then barks at me when they open their mouth. Here are those examples:

  • the mobile phone shop where someone eventually wandered over, and then said they couldn’t help with anything to do with my existing phone (I’d have to call customer services). Shame I wanted to fix one device, and then take out a contract for another!  We didn’t get that far.
  • the car dealer that was texting while I looked around the showroom, and then asked whether I was ready to buy a car today (as his first question).
  • the hotel receptionist that barely looked up as she gestured me vaguely in the direction of the bar, and said I need to speak to “someone in front-of-house” (I know what that means, but it’s hospitality industry jargon).

We know instinctively that great customer service is key to acquiring and retaining customers. But how well do we understand how value is judged, in those very first interactions? Simply put, it’s The 7 – 11 Rule where, in the first seven seconds of contact, a person (in this example the customer) forms 11 impressions about you and your organisation – including honesty, professionalism and helpfulness. So beware of the dogs. They make poor impressions. Don’t hire them. Fire them. Better to lose them than your customers.

So, who is providing great service? I’m so impressed by @DecathlonUK in Reading. Go and watch how they handle those first interactions with customers. Knowledgeable. Helpful. Professional. And if Grace is around, watch how she works. Such a natural customer service style. Simple stuff, but so #standout.

2 Comments on “Beware Of The Dogs”

  1. Jenny Sykes says:

    This weekend, we went to buy new sofas. Stores 1, 2 and 3 ‘barked’ at us instantly (the sales people were so desperate to make an impression that they didn’t really care that it was a bad one). In Store 4, a nice chap offered us a cup of tea 🙂 That’s how to make a sale!


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