The dictionary defines the verb, “help” this way: to give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need; contribute strength or means to; render assistance to; cooperate effectively with; aid; assist.
As someone who has spent forty years working in customer service, “help” has been a big chunk of my job description, and a regular part of my daily conversation.
“May I help you?”
“How can I help you?”
“Do you need some help?”
If I hear, “Can I get some help over here,” I am already two steps behind. Unless the customer has fallen down, is choking, or has accidentally tipped over a display, they should never have to ask for assistance; it should have already been offered. Or, in times of extreme busy-ness, at the very least eye-contact and a promise to help “as soon as I get a chance,” should have been made. There are ways to ask casually, without forcing anyone to admit they need help. Which shouldn’t be an issue when you walk in to a business, but sometimes it is.
“Are you finding everything?”
“Doing alright here?”
“Did you get everything you were looking for?”
It is second nature to me. It’s the contact that’s important. Letting the customer know, without fuss, that you are willing and able to help, that you see them, and that you care.
Lately, the concept of customer service has come up in conversation far too often, and in a negative way. It seems that the basic notion of being kind and helpful to the people that come in for the service offered has gotten lost. Now, when customer service is so important! The ease of on-line shopping and the low prices offered by internet giants have made a smiling face and a sincere offer to help the only way we have to compete! And yet, we seem to have abandoned it.
There are a million examples of unfriendly, rude, and unhelpful people in jobs where they were, in fact, hired to be friendly and helpful! I don’t understand the bad attitudes, but I’ve seen them, far too often, firsthand, as a customer, and even among my co-workers. A friendly “How are you doing?” is answered with, “I’ll be doing fine when I get out of this place!” That, from a person who is being paid to be there! Making it clear that doing their job, helping you, is the last thing they want to do!
I don’t like it, but I have no power to change it. If I were in charge, employees would have to meet a higher standard. And while I’m at it, just let me take charge of everything. I think the whole world be a better place if we all approached each other with a smile, and the offer, “What can I do to help?”