Change for the Better: Customer Service

Change for the Better: Customer Service
By: Christy Hendricks
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - Two words...customer service.  For many of us, it brings up bad memories of waiting in a long line or not being waited on at all in a store or restaurant.
"Almost anywhere you go, anywhere and I've been to other cities, it seems like there's a lack of guest service and that's kind of frustrating especially in the guest service industry," said Garrett Thorne, the general manager of the Hardee's restaurant in Cape Girardeau.
He says he's seen a deterioration in the service industries in the past five years.
"It seems like a lot of people nowadays don't have that same structure or ethics to want to come in and do a great job everyday," Thorne said. "Why that is I don't have the slightest clue."
Thorne says it's about attitude, something the employees at J.C. Penney at the Westpark Mall in Cape echo.
"What we do is we hire the smile and we train the rest.  With our hiring process we try to hire of course knowldgeable people," said Karla Hillemann, training supervisor at J.C. Penney in Cape Girardeau. "We want people that are friendly and outgoing and courteous and that's really important too."
In fact, day one of employee training at J.C. Penney focuses entirely on customer service.
"We spend some time talking about what's important to a customer, why it's important to a customer and how we can in turn deliver that to a customer," said Sarah Grigaitis, J.C. Penney store manager. 
No surprise, top on the list..."Courtesy and respect is number one.  They want to be treated with respect while they're here.  They want us all to be courteous.  They don't have to be here to spend their money," said Grigaitis.
Grigaitis says other priorities for customers include, "Clean fitting rooms, clean bathrooms. The quality of merchandise is always way toward the top."
"Our motto is that the guest doesn't get up from their seat unless they're using the restroom or leaving the restaurant.  So if they need anything, soda refills, purchase any other item, it's up to us to provide that service for them," Thorne said. 
Employees say they're two main things customers can do to improve customer service...communicate what you want and be respectful.
So if you pick something up you don't really want to buy, put it back where you got it.
Other tips include, shopping earlier or later in the day to avoid peak rush times.
Have patience and turn off your cell phone when placing an order.
"Just treat everybody with courtesy, and dignity, respect. Things you know, kind of Golden Rule kind of things that seems to be lost a little bit," Thorne said. 
And a little chivalry never hurt either.
"There's a man that comes through everyday and he brings us roses to make us smile," said Sherra Bolton, employee at Hardee's.