Friday, October 8, 2010

Taking Care of People

Here's an email about customer service that I sent to the Jameson Publishing staff last week. It sparked some interesting feedback from one of my co-workers (a Sales Manager) and one of our customers:

Earlier tonight, I stopped by the Wine & Spirits Shop on Asbury Road to make a purchase (it was for a friend –- I swear it’s a gift for a friend!). I’m ignorant about wine, so I could have used some help from the staff. But when I walked in, the two employees at the store didn’t say one word to me – not “Hi” or “Can I help you?” Heck, they didn’t even make eye contact with me, and I was the only customer in the store.

So for 7 minutes I walked up and down the aisles lost in a sea of oddly shaped glass bottles. A third employee came out of the back, but she didn’t offer me help either. They talked to each other for a minute, and then the person at the counter went back to leaning on her elbows. When I cashed out, I wanted to see if the cashier would at least smile at me. Didn’t happen. She scanned the bottles, put them into bags, and then dryly told me the total. I gave her my credit card, she swiped it, and then slid the receipt to me to be signed. When the transaction was complete, I said, “Thanks very much!” to which she replied, “Mmm-hmm.”

Compare that level of customer service with a story Karen Burkett (Jameson's Audience Development Manager who sits near our office entrance) told me the other day. I was in our lobby waiting to talk with Mindy Fadden (a Jameson co-worker), so I plopped myself into one of our comfy brown chairs there. Two co-workers walked by and jokingly wished me good luck with my job interview that day. Karen told me that when a guest visits our office and waits in the lobby, everyone says hi to them and most everyone checks to make sure they’re being taken care of. They do that even with Karen sitting at the front desk. We want to be 100% sure people are being taken care of.

Contrast that with my visit to the State Store where I think I’d have to start knocking bottles off the shelf to get someone’s attention. The point I’m trying to make is this: We have done a GREAT job taking care of people – our guests, our customers, and each other. Let’s keep alive our special spirit of helping others accomplish their goals. Thanks for everything you do!

P.S. I also learned a valuable lesson tonight: Spend more time at work and less time at the liquor store …

I received this response from one of Jameson's Sales Managers:
It seems like everywhere I check out I’m the one saying “Thank you” and I get “Mmm-hmm”. I’m thanking them for taking my money and I get “Mmm-hmm”. I started this past weekend to say “you’re welcome” even without getting a “thank you”. It raises some eyebrows and confusion of why I’m saying “you’re welcome”. My way of still being polite, treating others as I’d like to be treated, and maybe someone I say that to will ask themselves why I’m telling them you’re welcome.

The best was this past weekend at the McDonald’s on Buffalo Road when the Manager didn’t tell me “Thank You”. I told her you’re welcome but she was too busy telling one of her employees how they took too long to clean the dining area. I politely pulled out a $20 bill in front of her, called the lady over she was embarrassing in front of the other employees and handed it to her. I explained that she provided me and my son the best service I’d ever had and I’d send a note into McDonald’s Corp telling them she should be employee of the month. The lady was probably in her 60’s, had the dining room spotless, brought extra napkins over to my son, was talking to the other patrons, but getting her job done at the same time. I’m sure she’s not McDonald’s ideal employee, but as I explained in the e-mail I sent to McDonald’s corp I will still go back to that McDonald’s hoping I get that same great service from the lady cleaning their floors and not the service from the over paid manager behind the counter. This might have been the best $20 I have ever spent. The manager went into back up mode in front of everyone and kept trying to apologize. I ignored her and thanked the little old lady cleaning the floors and the other workers for the great service they gave us.

I shared mine and the Sales Manager's story with some of our customers who I'm close with. Here's what one of them, a CEO in the Washington D.C. area, wrote to me:
Bravo ... and thank you! The following is an email I just sent to everyone in our company. I believe your email will get more exposure than you imagined, as it’s a simple and wonderful expression of the courtesy and empathy we should show to all --

I received this from Jim Roddy, he’s the President of Jameson Publishing –- they publish Business Solutions Magazine. A “Please” and “Thank You” go a long way to make our daily interactions with strangers, no matter where we meet them, more pleasant for all.

I try to always go out of my way to use these two simple expressions with the folks I interact with on a daily basis. I recently took my daughter shopping at our local Giant and two employees went out of their way to approach us and say “Thank you for coming to our store, Bill”. All because I always say “Please” and “Thank You” when these folks helped me at check out. My guess is that most people don’t.

When we do it enriches the person who is sometimes performing what some consider a thankless task and their reaction makes our day more pleasant, too.

So “Please” take time to read the following and my “Thank You” for your individual contributions towards our company’s success. It means a lot, not just to me, but everyone in our company.

-- Jim Roddy

The Erie Sales Club is a joint effort of three leading local businesses: Jameson Publishing, Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services, and VertMarkets.


  1. Great stories, Jim. It truly speaks the the type of organization that you run and the quality of people who work for you; and that type of interaction seems to be lost in today's fast-paced world. This world needs to slow down and re-evaluate the way they interact with everyone they meet. Let's face it, we work because most of us need to. So managers take note, appreciate and respect your employees because they are the ones who do all of the leg work to ensure that you keep your job.

    John Cascio

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