Customer Service Lessons c/o FedEx Kinko’s

Unmet_promiseEarlier this week I walked into the FedEx Kinko’s store in Clive, IA. I was on my way to a meeting, in a hurry, and simply needed to print a document off my laptop. It shouldn’t have been a problem. I had the file on my laptop and on a zip drive. I would just ask the help which was the fastest, cheapest way to print my file. I walked back to the computer area, then around by the printers and noted the conspicuous lack of help. All the employees were busy behind the counter. Clearly, I was on my own. I wandered back to the Kinko’s LapNet station and, figuring I was an intelligent person, followed the directions to connect the Ethernet, the USB and install the LapNet application so I could print my document.

Everything was installed and working beautifully, until I received an error message telling me that an "unknown error" had occurred. I was told to restart my LapNet session. So, I did. I attempted to print again and I received the same error message. I tried to print to a different printer. I got the same error message. I ended another session, rebooted my computer and started again from scratch. I got the same error message. Arrrrrrrggghhhh!

Time to ask for help.

I walked to the counter. There was one woman helping a customer and three employees working behind the counter. One of the three employees was just a few feet away doing something with a paper cutter. He saw me, but ignored me. I stood and waited. I waited some more. I looked around. I waited some more. The woman at the counter continued to help her customer. Now, another one of the three workers behind the counter – an older woman who was further away – saw me.

Instead of asking if she could help, she spoke to her co-worker in an audible voice, "Hey! Do you SEE the customer standing at the counter?" she asked.

The man who had successfully ignored me looked up, made eye contact, then mumbled something about getting to me in a second and went back to work.

She sighed and grumbled, "No, no! Don’t worry about it!" She walked over to me reluctantly.

At this point, I was really feeling valued as a customer.

I explained my predicament to the woman, making sure to inform her that I’d followed all the instructions, had rebooted, had tried to restart the session as suggested.

"Have you tried a different station?" she asked.


"Move to another station," she said. "Try that."

I unplugged my computer from the LapNet station, turned off my computer, and moved my laptop to a different station. I plugged in, booted up, and connected. I got the same error message.

At this point, the last thing I wanted to do was go back to the desk, where the "not welcome" mat had already been rolled out for me. So, I shut down and went to a desktop station where I logged in and printed my document from my zip drive.

When I went to get my receipt, I looked at the charges from the 3 unsuccessful LapNet sessions and the more expensive charges for using the Desktop session. It cost me almost $15 to print 10 pages. I looked at the line at the counter, looked at the less than helpful staff and then considered what my own time was worth. The time and energy expended to complain and receive a refund was simply not worth it.

I quietly walked out with a mind to never return.

Customer Service Lessons c/o FedEx Kinko’s:

  1. If you’re going to provide a myriad of technology options for customers and market yourself as a fast, convenient solution, make sure you have appropriate staff available to help.
  2. Even if you are angry with your co-worker because he/she should be helping the customer, make sure you take care of the customer first – then speak privately to your co-worker or employer about your frustration.
  3. Smile and present yourself to the customer as genuinely wanting to help. A defensive "What do you want?" attitude will send customer’s packing.
  4. If a customer needs help with a machine, product or service in another part of the store – walk with them to that location and help them. Don’t just spout instructions and send them off to serve themselves.

9 thoughts on “Customer Service Lessons c/o FedEx Kinko’s

  1. I loved working retail for this very reason. You get repeat customers if you know how to take care of them in the first place: and it’s such a great feeling to see a customer walk away happy, and knowing you’ve done your best.
    Some companies just have no clue what customer service is: and so many employees are content with just getting by. This happens in so many call centers, and people who are happy with mediocrity don’t last long. Why should retail be any different?

  2. wow, i have been seeing a lot more of this kind of service everywhere. I don’t know if people are just sick of their jobs or what but I feel for you. I just went through an experience similar but even worse with Comcast…don’t even get me started on that.

  3. Tom,
    I hope you went to their Web site and e-mailed a link to this post. Don’t let them get away with it. I do this whenever I experience something similar.
    Hey, if nothing else, maybe one of their employees will click on the link and up your traffic:-)

  4. Tom,
    Oh my, what an experience! I just had to comment because I had a similar experience at FedEx/Kinkos. I had a printing project that was a “counter job” rather than a do-it-yourself-er. The store was brimming with activity. However, no one was in line at the counter and there was an employee standing by the register and as well as two others. I stood and waited for the employee at the register to acknowledge me. She never did.
    An employee came over to discuss something with the employee at the register. They never looked my way.
    Finally, with a line beginning to form behind me, I asked the person at the register “is there a customer service representative here?” She looked up and said “It’s Sally’s day off.”
    “Okay,” I said, “who is helping customers today?”
    She snarled, “We all are. We’re busy!”
    Hmmmm. I took my business to Office Depot and haven’t looked back.
    Funny thing is, all she had to do was acknowledge my presence and tell me she’d be with me as soon as she was finished helping another customer.
    Companies who want to give red-carpet customer service must remember that their service is only as good as their least engaged employee!
    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to swap stories.

  5. i just had the exact same experience. one woman handed me a cd and told me to burn my files to it and i was like, well, i need to print web pages and i can’t really save those, but thanks….
    now, every time i turn on my computer it tries to load LapNet and i have to click cancel every time because i’m not at a kinkos.
    i’m beyond livid

  6. Thanks for the comments, Donna & Thomas. It sounds like this is NOT an isolated incident. It’s too bad. Kinkos used to be one of the best in the business and such a great place to receive quality service!

  7. I have had similar experiences. I made a calender for my dad and all I wanted to do was print them. and when I used the colored printer it was printing part of the picture. When someone finally helped me they said that they would print them for me and I would not be charged a service fee. then when the other kid cameu p to me to print my items her charged me for the miss prints and I was charged the service fee for having the guy do it and when I protested about the fee he said he couldn’t waive it. then I said no I’m not paying the fee because that guy said because the self service area was down I did not have to and the other guy asked the kid and he said right in front of me that he never said that. I was super angry and I tore up the items and ended up going to office depot where they were very nice to me and it was cheaper than going to kinkos. I have had many problems with kinkos

  8. In 2004 I notified the CFO of then Kinkos, by Certified Mail, of this serious epidemic technical problem throughout all Kinkos. He wrote me a letter back saying my local Kinkos would refund me without assuring me any further preventetive measures whatsoever would be taken!

  9. These people work retail for very little money…very little. They don’t care about your technical problems. Why should they? They don’t get paid enough to care. I have to laugh when people complain about poor customer service from fast workers and retail workers. I used to work retail while I was in college-it was terrible! People who have to work in these jobs have all my sympathy. I can’t imagine a worse job that having to deal with the general public on a daily basis.

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