Monday, July 10, 2006

The 3 Stooges, Customer Service, Lesson learned

My wife and I care for her 95 year-old aunt (btw - wonderful woman).  I often pick up her meds at her drug store which is closer to her and only a little out of the way for me.  Normally its a quick trip, zip in, zip out, never a line...until today.  I had been told the script was ready so I did not mind waiting in the unusually long line.  My turn came and no, the script was NOT ready.  "It will be a few minutes" they said.  I said, "you will be sure to call my name, or do I need to come back".  "Oh no sir, we will most certainly call you when it's ready" was his reply. 

I wait twenty minutes watching the long line of angry customers coming and going.  So, I begin to think, and wonder in amusement.  This never happens here.  What's wrong today?  What's different about today?  The scattered behavior of the man helping me clearly indicates he is in fact no longer working on my script.  Another older man is quietly typing at the key board quietly mumbling commands every now and then.  A younger kid is hustling around just lifting things and putting them back trying to look like he's helping. 

Once I've reached my limit of tolerance, I return the window.  "How's that script coming guys?"  I say, trying not to be too obnoxiously annoyed.    Oh...yes...that will be a few minutes"...he hustles back over to the counter where he had started filling the script :20 minutes ago. 

By this time I've named them, Curly, Moe and Larry.  Curly was the middle-aged bald guy trying desparately to pull his business together.  I'm certain this was his watch and the leader of the mess.  Larry was the older 50-something looking annoyed and trying to ignore customers so he could just do his computer work.  And Moe is the young kid looking clueless trying to pretend that he wasn't. 

So, this time I wait at the window to make sure Curly gets the job done.  He focuses, with a little sweat building on the bald head, and finally gets it done.  He walks back to the counter and begins to tell me that he only has enough meds for 2 days and I should come back on Wednesday for the rest.  I take a deep breath and over compensate for how angry I am by talking quietly and slowly repeating back to him what he just said.  I pay for a few items and while I'm running the card, and punching the numbers he attempts an appology.  I knew it was coming, but I was not prepared for what came out of his mouth.  Its been a crazy day for HIM, and things are just crazy for HIM today, and thanks for being patient, but its just been a crazy day for HIM.  Did you ever think about ME!?  The customer!? you foolish...

THAT'S when it hit me!  I was dealing with GUYS!  OMG!  He couldn't care less about me or the other customers.  It was all about him!  The messed up unorganized workspace...totally a GUY thing!  All 3 stooges working independently of each other yet trying to accomplish the same tasks and goal.  Not an organizer, or task-master bone amongst the three bodies.

Running a pharmacy looks extremely detailed to me.  And sick people cannot always be pleasant people.   My pharmacy does twice the business and its run by women and never a problem.  Not just didn't  feel like a problem when the women there addressn it with me.  Today's pharmacy usually does have a very pleasant young lady on the team...but not today.

Lesson learned:  Tom Peters is right.  I don't think I've ever experienced it this blatently before.  Women are better at business stuff because women are better at relationship stuff, organizational stuff, and detail stuff.  Business is about relationships, details, and pleasant experiences. I hope your customer-facing relationship experiences are better than my experience at the Frys Pharamacy at 20th street in Phoenix, Arizona.
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