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Best point of sale customer service at a KFC

Who knew that I’d observe the best example of point-of-sale customer service at a fast food place?  This past weekend I was traveling and stopped off the freeway at Sacramento [California].  I wanted to call my husband, rest for a short while and have a quick snack.  The Kentucky Fried Chicken/A&W place was easily the best choice to allow me quick back-to-the-freeway access.

KFC/A&W Del Paso Rd in Sacramento, CA

KFC/A&W Del Paso Rd in Sacramento, CA

When I entered the establishment, there was just one fellow ahead of me in line.  He was ordering for three and not sure of his choices.  Waiting on him at the cash register was a friendly young woman.  Now, at first, I didn’t pay any attention to the sale going on before me…I was thinking about my day and staying on my travel schedule.  I began to tune in though because of what I was hearing.  The sales person was patiently giving the young man explanations of the differences between the various ways in which KFC’s chicken is cooked; she told him what the specials were and pointed out the new beverages [I ended up with the limeade – it was good].  He changed his mind a couple of times, but she didn’t miss a beat.  She exhibited all the traits of a truly skilled and competent sales person:

  • provided enough information about the choices for the customer to make an informed purchasing decision
  • her smile was warm and genuine
  • she was patient…she treated him as though his purchase was important
  • courtesy was in every sentence…she used “please,” “thank you,” referred to him as “sir” and looked him in the eye
  • she made sure his order was exactly what he wanted before concluding the sale and then thanked him for his business
Sheba, salesperson extraordinairre

Sheba, salesperson extraordinairre

After the young man left the register and it was my turn, I told this young woman that I was very impressed with her friendly professionalism.  I explained that I wrote a business blog and was going to write about this with her permission.  I also asked if I could take her photo, to which she agreed after checking with the on-site manager, Robert Greenlee.  Her name is Sheba and she said, “I try to do my best wherever I am.” With customer skills like this, Sheba has a bright future in my opinion.

To be fair, when I was seated at a booth and finishing my snack before heading back onto the freeway, I observed a young man at the register who was also helping a customer with polite consideration.

What really struck me, though, in this experience is that I don’t enter a fast food establishment with the expectation of receiving this level of customer service.  Actually, I’m quite happy if the counter person gets my order correct.  We should ask the question: should there be “levels” of customer service dependent upon the ticket price of the merchandise? If I spend $100 on an item of clothing, or if I eat at a restaurant at which entrees begin at $25-30 I expect to get good or even great service.  Shouldn’t I also expect good or even great service when my total ticket is $3.78?  I think the answer is yes. It’s important for any business, regardless of industry, to remember that a happy, satisfied customer is going to tell others.  A business’ reputation is built, in part, upon what its customers have to say about it.

What do your customers say about your business?

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Does your sales staff sabotage your business?

Let’s set up a scenario.  You own a business.  Your business could be quite large with thousands of people or very small…just a few.  Your business has a sales component...most do.  Your item for sale could be a commodity or information…it doesn’t matter to this scenario.

You’ve worked hard to build your business and your business’ reputation.  The product you sell is a good one; one which you are not just proud to represent, you are passionate about it.  You are pleased to have your name attached to this product and vice versa.  In all aspects of your business you desire to present quality and great service. Customer satisfaction is key to you because it represents both current and future prosperity…a satisfied current customer is often not only a repeat customer, but hopefully will refer new customers for you.

Your best hope for a satisfied customer is that the sales person presenting the information about your product is reflecting your:

  • passion
  • standards
  • vision

If this happens…the sale has more than a 50% chance of proceeding to a satisfactory conclusion.  If not, don’t count on this sale.

The truth of this scenario was brought home to me yesterday through a restaurant industry example.  The business is a franchise of an Italian cuisine chain.  One of the pieces of promotional materials that I received was a coupon via direct [snail] mail that seemed a real value.  The chain itself has a good reputation for quality-tasting food.  So, I thought I’d give it a try as the convenience of a pre-cooked meal was very attractive.

My husband ran the errand for me of driving to the physical location of the eatery in our community.  He took with him the coupon and presented it to the person at the counter.  In this example I would say that the counter person is equivalent to the sales person.  The producers of the food itself [chefs, cooks] obviously follow recipes already developed – quality recipes which have been the basis for the good reputation this chain has for good food and reasonable prices.

Yesterday, however, the sales person sabotaged possible future business from me.   Although the pasta with sauce was, indeed, delicious, its presentation in the “to go” containers was sloppy – it was overpacked and dripping; dripping to the point of leaking inside the carry-out bag.  The salad was worse.  From the looks of it when I opened the container, in my opinion, no care was taken in the way in which the salad was packaged…entirely too much of several condiments and poorly chopped lettuce; all crammed in together.  I was not a happy consumer when I opened up the packages.  In this case, even though the chefs did their job, the advertising department did its job, it was the sales staff that ruined the sale for me.  You see “care” is an important function of customer service.

What could the sales [counter] person have done differently?

  1. paid attention to the volume of pasta and sauce going into the container and making sure it was not overflowing and leaking
  2. made sure the lettuce was not smashed by the condiments; perhaps put the individual condiments in different containers – especially the bread croutons – they were moist by the time the meal got home from being smashed into the lettuce, raisins, tomatoes and onions
  3. been more mindful of the amount of salad condiments…there were more sunflower seeds piled into the container than could be enjoyed in any one salad

This seems like a minor incident, doesn’t it?  Let me assure you, however, that businesses have lost customers for far less reasons than overflowing and leaking pasta containers.

If your customer has the impression that you don’t care about your product enough to give them quality service, then you are sabotaging your business.  At the point of sale, when the customer is making the decision to exchange his/her currency for your product or service, then whoever it is conducting that transaction ought to be reflecting the passion and belief in your product/service and business that you do…even if that person is yourself.

Just put the shoe on the other foot.  How do you like to be treated in a sales transaction?  Never let your customer end up dissatisfied if it could have been avoided.   Make sure your sales staff understand fully the philosophy of your business and are committed to what they are selling.  Pie-in-the-sky expectation of a sales staff?  Perhaps…but something to hope for.

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Question: do you even like your products?

Speaking about people who have a business that offers products or services, I wonder, do they even like their own products or services?  What if the answer was “no?”  What difference would it make to their success?

How can someone who has a direct selling business offer a product or service that he or she can’t get excited about?  I think it would be very hard to convice someone else to try your proudcts or service if you don’t use them and believe in them yourself.  Where would be your credibility?

Does this mean you have to whoop and hollar and jump around like some kind of fool to show how excited you are?  Maybe not so much.  But I do believe it means you show excitement.  I think it means:

  • You use your product – you are your first, best customer
  • You not only use your product, you are your first testimonial about it – you love to talk about the value you receive from it
  • You believe in it enough to talk about it to others – you are so excited about it you can’t wait to tell others

People don’t like to be “sold” products, they like to “buy” products, this is the mantra of sales genius Jeffrey Gitomer and it is so true. 

Be excited about your product or service.  Be willing to tell people why you like it and what benefit(s) it offers.  Give your product or service value.  Position it as something of value to have or use and there will be people who will be able to see that value for themselves….then they will buy it from you.

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Who are your business heroes?

There is much talk in the business consultant world about the value of a mentor.  There is no denying that having someone who can come alongside you, advise you – who lets you bounce ideas and concerns off of them and offers honest appraisal – is very valuable to a person’s growth.

If you read enough success-oriented magazines and books, listen to enough audio presentations and video talks…you’ll learn that having a mentor is something desirable and you are very fortunate if you find one.

Mentors are heroes to those they help. 

There is another type of hero-mentor…this is the person who only comes alongside you via their books, cds or videos, or even if you attend one of their seminars.  They don’t know you personally, yet their material coaches you, inspires you and helps you grow.

One such hero-mentor for me is a super-salesman named Jeffrey Gitomer.  Mr. Gitomer does not know me, yet his work has been very powerful in my growth as a business person.  Jeffrey Gitomer has a series of “Little….Book of…”’s that I value and that have taught me a lot.

My favorite and the one that helped me over the hump of whether to begin my home-based business in the first place was Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude.”  Its subtitle is: “How to Find, Build, and Keep a YES! Attitude for a Lifetime of SUCCESS.”

This book doesn’t sugar-coat it…it tells you in your face what you can and cannot get from reading the book.  Every page is challenging and uplifting. 

In addition to the “…Little Gold Book…” I have the “Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Green Book of Getting Your Way [How to Speak, Write, Present, Persuade, Influence, and Sell Your Point of View to Others],” and the “Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Black Book of Connections [6.5 ASSETS for Networking Your Way to RICH Relationships].”

I read many books and articles about success, entrepreneurship, leadership and such, but I would argue that a valuable addition to anyone’s library would be books devoted to attitude – like the “…Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude…” and good books on salesmanship. 

Mr. Gitomer may not know me, but I’m grateful for what he has taught me through his books. 

Let’s all knit with Wells Fargo Bank

I was pleased to see in today’s newspaper that Wells Fargo Bank is doing “okay.”   I especially like the quote by Georges Yared who said, “‘They [Wells Fargo] did not build a business around subprime or Alt-A mortgages.  They built a business on high-quality mortgages.  Wells has really stuck to its knitting and not varied from that.'”

That is one cool assessment!  “…stuck to its knitting and not varied from that.”  What does this mean to you?  To me it means a business with integrity and a company culture of ethics.  Does your business have that?  Is integrity and ethics part and parcel of daily business for you?   Not just is the product first class, but is the business  first class, is the corporation  first class?  Integrity and ethics.  “Sticking to its knitting….”

I found an interesting article in a 2007 article on Entrepreneur.com about building trust with your customersSales is an interesting thing everyone in business does.  It doesn’t matter if you sell a product, an idea or a service, we all sell something.  And, again, doing business with integrity is key to being a first class business.  Doesn’t matter if your business is a multi-billion dollar corporation with thousands of employees or a 1-person home-based business, integrity is crucial to long-lasting success.

As example, yesterday at lunch – at an outdoor cafe in a neighboring town – I overheard bits and pieces of a conversation with a salesperson and his two clients.  What caught my ear was a phrase the salesman used: “Not sure yet?  Then let me sweeten the pot.”  This made me pause and think.  Why wouldn’t everything the salesperson had to offer already be on the table?  Why would he need to “sweeten the pot?”  Why wouldn’t he already have given his potential clients the sweetest product available?

Be upfront, be clear, “what you see is what you get,” no hidden anything…seems to me a well-knit business, without ravelling edges and broken yarn…would need to have integrity as the skein from which it’s made.