5 Customer Service Lessons from the Mall of America

Mall of America

Rick Conlow gained some key lessons from a customer service survey conducted at the Mall of America.

As I held a customer service seminar at the Mall of America, I had the idea to rate the mall’s stores to gain key customer service lessons. I had 45 participants, they were game, so I gave them the assignment to evaluate three different stores each over an extended lunch break. We mapped out a plan to cover the mall. We also created a makeshift rating form to collect our data. What do you think we discovered?

The Mall of America is one of the largest shopping malls in the world, and a showcase for retail in the US with over 500 stores. According to our survey, only 20% of employees did a good job. Most were mediocre at best. One-third were absolutely atrocious. It was an awesome learning experience to reinforce the principles of the seminar.

Here are the five lessons (and one bonus) my workshop team and I summarized for all of the employees of the mall (we also felt that these are good reminder points for all others in customer service roles as well).

5 Customer Service Lessons

  1. Stay Positive and Upbeat!

The first step to helping a customer has nothing to do with the customer at all. Consequently, it has everything to do with you. Are you really ready to do a great job today? Do you have a superstar attitude? If not, maybe you need to take a personal day or even do an attitude adjustment on the way to work.

Whether things are going well or not, you have to work at it to stay positive. Learn to mentally move from your concerns to those of the customer. When faced with personal negativism or stress or fatigue remember that the customer is your priority: picture success in your mind, encourage yourself and then greet the customer with a smile.

It’s kind of like: See it, say it and do it! Do not give excuses for doing a poor job by hiding behind daily frustrations or issues. The customer does not know or care what is going on with you, they just want help. Customer service superstars have a motto: Do it now – positively and enthusiastically!

  1. Greet All People Respectfully and Positively!

Put on a smile and say hello so the customer knows that you are available to help. Do not ignore the customer in person or on the phone. In addition:

  • Be courteous
  • Stay positive and upbeat
  • Show your friendliness

These are the basics. It is irritating to the customer if you are crabby. Make it a better day for every customer you talk to. It has been said that-when you help others, you help yourself. So be genuinely nice. After all, isn’t that what you want as a customer?

  1. Helping the Customer Is the Name of the Game!

What is the purpose of your job? This is one of the customer service lessons that is so obvious that it is ignored sometimes. It’s not small talking to co-workers or checking your cell phone every few minutes.  Pretending to stock shelves is not the job. Eating your lunch by the cash register offends customers. Of course, the job isn’t sneaking into the backroom to hide. Instead, the job is to cheerfully helping customers by:

  • Listening to what the customer wants or needs
  • Asking few useful questions.
  • Advising the customer on your products.
  • Helping with a positive upbeat attitude.

If the customer has a question, be kind in how you answer. If you do not have the answer, find someone who does. Act like you care that you are working today, and that you are there to serve the tall the short the young and the old.

  1. Add Value- Brilliantly!

Just cashing someone out, taking their money and saying a thoughtless thank-you is not acceptable service. Machines do that today. In other words, do these positive actions:

  • Offer complementary or optional products
  • Follow-up, send an e-mail or text or call back to check-in
  • Do something that was not requested
  • Share a deal or way to save money
  • Ask for feedback and suggestions
  • Say thank you sincerely

All of these customer service lessons are invaluable. The behaviors for each separate the winners from the losers in customer service. Customers will notice your efforts and appreciate it. So will your boss!

  1. Handle Problems Positively!

If a customer asks a hard question or has a complaint, deal with it. Do not go running to the manager and make the customer wait. Or worse yet, if you see an angry customer do not hide. Instead, learn these two steps to complaint resolution:

  • Deal with the person – listen, empathize and apologize.
  • Deal with the problem – ask clarifying questions, create a plan, explain it and do it.

Reinforcing the 5 Customer Service Lessons

The bonus to the customer service lessons is that it is a do it yourself project. If the company provides training-excellent. However, don’t stop there. Take responsibility and keep learning so you can do a better job. It’s called self-leadership. The delivery of positive moments of truth with customers is a mindset and skill-set. It is really giving planned acts of kindness. It is the right thing to do.

About the Author

Rick Conlow is CEO & Senior Partner of WCW Partners, a performance improvement company. Based in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, WCW works with clients in a variety of industries worldwide to help them excel in sales, service and leadership, facilitating business growth and vitality. Rick is author of Excellence in Management, Excellence in Supervision and Returning to Learning.

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