Back in my younger days, I worked the counter of the paint department at a big box retailer.
Customers would need help from co-ordinating colours to knowing which paint or stain would work best to getting the right caulking to seal their bathtub. And I’d get off-the-wall requests once in a while, like the one guy who wanted to use a simple household glue to adhere a body kit to his car.
Don’t worry, I told him to go to the nearest parts store to get the right stuff.
I was a kid back then, not even 20 years old when I started. It was a part time job during school and I enjoyed it. It was fun to help people who were frantically trying to stop their shower from leaking, needing a colour adjusted because they didn’t like their original choice or wanted to put the finishing touches on their home renovation.
They were depending on me to help them solve their problem. It was kind of cool to be part of that process. Saying “I hope I never see you again,” was my way tongue-in-cheek way of telling the customer that I had just given them the solution they were searching for and they wouldn’t need to come back. That was my goal whenever I interacted with a customer: I never wanted to see them again, at least not for that issue.
Of course, not all counterpeople will have the knack for finding obscure parts and answering the out-of-left-field questions, but taking care of basic needs goes a long way for the customer.
And that’s what it was all about – providing peace of mind by finding a solution to the customer’s problem. I got them what they needed so they didn’t have to worry anymore.
So when I talk to parts counter staff, I’m always interested in knowing what goes on in their minds when they’re taking calls from service shops or getting a walk-in client who needs help figuring out what they need. What questions are you asking, what’s your thought process and how do you figure out the right solution? I always learn something when I talk to you.
Barry Murray of APD in Calgary was a runaway choice for our annual Counterperson of the Year Award. When I spoke to his customers or colleagues, they all raved about how he manages to go above and beyond for his customers. A lot of it has to do with experience and institutional knowledge, but there is a lesson everyone can take from Murray the next time a customer calls or walks in to your parts store for help.
It’s about taking care of the little things, such as keeping your promises. Murray makes sure he calls people back, for example, when he tells them that he will.
Of course, not all counterpeople will have the knack for finding obscure parts and answering the out-of-left-field questions, but taking care of basic needs goes a long way for the customer. When you do, that turns a regular customer into a loyal one. And Murray has a lot of them for a reason.
When I think back to my younger self, I wonder how much better I could have been if I had taken a page out of Murray’s book in dealing with customers, going the extra mile and taking pride in my job. Not to say I didn’t, but I definitely could have done better in all of those areas.
Chances are, you can as well.
From the November 2017 issue of Jobber News