Word Swap for Customer Success: Is it me? Am I the problem?

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Word Swap is back, and you get to be the judge on this one! Do I have a reasonable complaint or am I expecting too much?

Here’s the deal:

A few weeks ago, I stopped into a local big box store’s lawn and garden department. When I asked an employee working the area a question about a certain plant, she said, “I dunno know, why don’t you Google it?”

I found the response to be lacking and was wondering if others would react the same? So I crowd-sourced the question on social media and within a few hours dozens of people had responded with comments ranging from “Yes! Write the article!” to “That employee should have been reported!”

Here’s the thing: she was friendly and attentive. I don’t have any reason to report her to management or retaliate with rudeness. Most of the people who chimed in on my post made the assumption that she failed me or they commented that in a post-pandemic environment, customer service has gone down hill and employers are lucky just to fill their staffing slots.

Then I received private messages from two millennials who showed me another side to this whole story! While I saw it as falling short, they saw it as helpful advice. One young person said, “Did you Google it before you asked? It’s a fair question Mom…..”

One person summed it up well by asking: what is the expectation here? Is it her job to answer my question about gardening, or is she there to help me find the products I came to buy? Oohhh…good point.

As a customer experience expert, I think a simple word swap here would work best. Instead of “I dunno, why don’t you google it?,” she could be trained to say, “Excellent question, and I’m not sure – let me see if someone else on the team knows.”

Word swapping is my favorite example of how to change an experience with no cost. No matter what generation you represent, we all want the same thing – the feeling of being heard and understood wherever we do business. What separates in-person interactions from online, digital orders is the human component. Being a business where no question is too stupid and going to great lengths to provide answers or handle complaints face-to-face is how to thrive as an organization.

What word swamp does your team need to work on today in order to connect and serve your customers best?

Meet Laurie Guest

Meet Laurie Guest

An entrepreneur, keynote speaker and author, Laurie Guest, CSP is a “go-to-resource” for customer service excellence. For more than two decades, she has shared her practical point of view on customer service and staff development with audiences and companies across the country, blending real-life examples and proven action steps for improvement. Her latest book, The 10¢ Decision: How Small Change Pays of Big, presents her most sought-after and impactful strategies to find and retain the best staff and highest-quality customers while delivering exceptional guest experiences.

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