Earlier 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Smile and present yourself to the customer as genuinely wanting to help. A defensive "What do you want?" attitude will send customer’s packing.
- 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.