While shopping at the Westfield Brandon Shopping Center over the last couple of days, we had two instances where employees failed in their mission to service their customers.  These businesses violated two important rules when servicing their customers – know thy product and know thy customer.  <begin rant>

Here is an example of an employee not knowing their product and associated company procedures.  The first instance started two days ago when, upon inquiring about an Invisible Shield product for a family member’s iPad.  We were told by the employee at the kiosk that they did not have the screen protector, however they were expecting a shipment on Friday or Saturday.  Alternatively, we could pre-order it at a 15% discount and come back to have it installed.  The family member elected to go back on Saturday because the $3 savings wasn’t enough and told the employee so.  A phone call to the kiosk today revealed that they expected the shipment around 11 a.m. or 12 p.m.  Since we were at the mall later that afternoon we stopped by the kiosk, only to be told that they never got the shipment.  No apologies were provided, and the employee blamed corporate for the lack of a confirmation.  This employee violated the “know thy product” principle by blaming “corporate” and not doing whatever he could to rectify the situation before it occurred as evidenced by his attitude.  It is VITAL that you or your employees know about your product(s) or service(s) and what it takes to bring them to the customer.  Your business and personal relationships depend on it.

An employee at a T-Mobile store violated the “know thy customer” principle.  When a family member expressed interest in the MyTouch Slide the salesperson gave them a sales pitch about how the phone was customizable and how there was a buy one-get one free offer on the phone.  The violation occurred when the salesperson failed to ask the customer what they expected their phone to do.  While this was to be a personal phone, the customer had specific requirements.  Had it been a business phone, another model may have been in order, especially since many larger companies have standardized on Blackberry devices.  After discussion, we elected to see when contracts expired and, if eligible, proceed and split the cost of a phone upgrade.  This is when that same salesperson violated the “know thy product” principle.  While waiting for an open computer, the salesperson changed his pitch, stating that we could buy a MyTouch Slide but had to select another phone as the free one.  He also could not answer questions regarding how this would affect the family plan.  Needless to say, we left the store and they missed a sale.

It is vital that you keep these two principles in mind when servicing your customers.  Failure to do so will slow the growth of your business.
</end rant>

What other customer service principles do you live by?