I think I’m a good judge of quality customer service. I pride myself on the level of customer care that Alert Communications provides our clients, and it always surprises me that some companies still aren’t taking the customer experience seriously. I have to share a shopping experience I had recently.

I was out shopping for a dinner party that I was hosting, and I went into a well-known department store looking for a particular serving plate. I spent quite a bit of time trying to find it and never heard from the sales clerk who didn’t look busy at all. Just before I reached that total frustration point, I asked the clerk for help. She briefly made eye contact with me—which I almost missed—and pointed in a general direction for me to look. I followed her ‘point’, didn’t find the plate, and I left. One lost sale.

Then I went into Williams-Sonoma looking for a particular combination of dish soap, hand lotion and hand soap. Walking through the store, I noticed some pre-wrapped sets, but not in the scent I wanted. When I reached the back of the store, a sales clerk asked if she could help me, so I explained what I needed.

They didn’t have exactly what I wanted on display, but that didn’t stop this sales clerk from making it happen. (Here’s where great customer service comes into play.) She said she’d be happy to put together what I needed and would find me as I continued to shop. A few minutes later, back at the front of the store, the sales clerk tapped me on the shoulder and handed me exactly what I was looking for: a wrapped set of soap and lotion in the scent that I wanted.

Two very different stories. The first one didn’t have to end negatively. The major department store didn’t have what I wanted, but if the clerk had paid a little more attention to me, I might have left without the grudge that I feel now. The customer service prize goes to the Williams-Sonoma clerk who went well out of her way to help me. It will be very easy to go to Williams-Sonoma again, but I don’t think I’ll be returning to the other place.

Are the faces and voices of your company providing the right customer experience? Do your employees meet your expectations of customer service? Do they have the tools and training to get the job done? If your goal is to create loyal customers and clients, then make sure they are receiving best customer experience available. Feel free to share a good or bad customer experience that you’ve had!