“Here, let me do that”

Version 2Hearing “Here, let me do that” on the sales floor always sets off alarms for me.  I quickly want to know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

If it is to relieve a customer of some irksome or tedious task such as filling out a long form or lifting a heavy object, then that is good customer  service. But if it is to do for the customer something they can and would like to do for themselves, it is simply well-intentioned yet poor  customer service.  Here is a recent example.

I was walking through a large consumer electronics and appliance store last weekend.  All the product in the store are displayed and available for customers to touch, see, feel to their heart’s content.  Clearly, this is good merchandising.  As a photographer, I particularly appreciate the way the store displays digital cameras. I am sure most everyone has seen this type of display.  Each of the cameras is on the rack next to a short product description explaining what you are looking at and the key features and benefits of the product.  The cameras themselves are attached to the rack with a retractable leash allowing customers to pick up the cameras and test them out; seeing how it feels in their hands and allowing them to check out the controls, the optics and the viewfinder.  This allows the customer to see what it would be like if it was their camera.

As I passed the cameras, I noticed a couple carefully examining a better Sony mirrorless camera when an eager employee approached.

“Do you have any questions on the Sony?” the employee asked.

“Yes, can you manually focus the camera?” they answered as they continued to fiddle with the camera’s controls.

“Here, let me do that” as he took the camera away from the customers and began to set the camera to manual focus without explaining what he was doing.

Teachable Moment

I wanted to stop the salesperson right there.  Did you answer the customer’s question?  Did they tell you to do it for them?  Are they learning anything about their potential camera? Had they suddenly become paralyzed and deaf? The customers seemed able and interested in setting the manual focus themselves.

The proper response from the salesperson should have been, “Yes. Would you like me to walk you through the process?”

This would have kept the camera in the customers hands and given them the skills and confidence to use the camera themselves.  I am not sure if the customers ever bought the product, but the salesperson missed a great service opportunity.

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