No Toilet Paper – Is Customer Service Getting Worse?

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Some people claim that customer service is getting worse. I disagree. Customers are getting smarter and expecting more. The customer service “bar” is raised by great companies who teach us what good customer service should be. And, when there is a customer service “horror story,” it seems to stand out much more than when everything is right and works the way it’s supposed to.

My friend, Shary Raske, a motivational speaker and coach, sent in a story that reminds me that sometimes common sense isn’t so common. This is the perfect example that might cause someone to think, “Customer service is getting worse!”

Shary was on a road trip and needed to stop for gasoline. Before filling up the car with gas, she decided to go to the bathroom. She noticed there wasn’t any toilet paper in the woman’s restroom. After making sure the men’s room wasn’t being used, she checked there. No toilet paper there, either

So, Shary went asked the attendant working behind the counter and asked for toilet paper. His response was, “We don’t have any.”

Now, this was a convenience store, and guess what? There was plenty of toilet paper for sale. All the attendant had to do was give Shary a roll of toilet paper. Now, some of you may point out, that the toilet paper on the floor is for sale, not for use. So, what! This isn’t like the attendant had to work hard to come up with a creative solution. The toilet paper was staring him in the face. Was he worried his manager might be upset? If so, shame on that manager!

Well, the attendant did come up with a solution. He told Shary, “You could use the toilet at the gas station across the street.”

She did. She also bought $26.67 worth of gas across the street.

Here are just three thoughts on this rather unfortunate situation:

  1. It’s obvious the employee was not empowered. That could be a sign of bad training.
  2. Maybe this was a just a “bad hire.” Had Shary come at another time, a different employee might have recognized how simple the solution was and fixed the situation. Yet this employee was all Shary will remember about this store. One employee can create a perception for all employees.
  3. Why weren’t the bathrooms checked on a regular basis for cleanliness and toilet paper? This is standard operating procedures for many public restrooms in restaurants, gas stations – really almost anywhere.

There are more lessons and ideas to be discussed, but you get the idea. Sometimes the solution is so simple, it’s almost ridiculous that someone can’t come up with it. Share this story with your team. Ask them what their thoughts are about what happened. Sometimes a bad customer service example is a great learning opportunity.

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