May 27, 2014
While Nugget was in surgery, I went to my local Chuck & Don’s Pet Food store to pick up his favorite treats: Old Mother Hubbard Bac’N’Cheez dog biscuits.
During checkout, the cashier dutifully asked whether or not I was a “Friend of Chuck” (that is, a member of the store’s rewards program). After she found me in the database and before she totaled the sale, she asked, “Would you like to buy some ice cream for your dog?”
I smiled at the thought and replied, “I better just stick with the dog biscuits because I’m going to have a pretty big vet bill later today.”
Instead of inquiring about the welfare of my dog, the cashier simply executed the remainder of the transaction, handed me a receipt, and asked whether or not I wanted a bag for my dog biscuits.
I wasn’t looking for sympathy, but I did think she missed an opportunity to express genuine interest in my pet by asking a follow-up question like: “Why is your dog at the vet?” After learning more about Nugget’s condition, she could have shared some unique “insider” knowledge about how to keep him from biting at his stitches. (I’ve since learned that putting an old, snug-fitting t-shirt on your dog that covers the stitches may do the trick.)
She could have also provided a pleasant surprise, like a simple dog treat, saying, “Here’s a little something to cheer Nugget up!” In fact, considering Chuck & Don’s clientele, there’s a good chance that I’m not the only customer with a pet at the vet. Why not anticipate this by having dog biscuits and cat toys on hand that are imprinted with “Get well soon!”? Another missed opportunity.
My experience illustrates how a cashier can execute a flawless transaction and still disappoint. Customers may appreciate employees who complete transactions accurately and efficiently, but they remember employees who demonstrate empathy, share unique knowledge, and provide pleasant surprises.
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June 11 update: Last week, I received a phone call from Christine at Chuck & Don’s pertaining to this blog post. She was very interested in the details of my in-store experience and followed up with a bundle of Chuck & Don’s goodies for Nugget. For that, I say thank you, Christine – and Nugget says “WOOF!”