Balancing two needs: self-service and personal attention

The big push in customer service today is self-serve. When we’re on websites, we like to be able to answer questions without having to pick up the phone, fill out a contact form, or send an email.

Life – and commerce – is usually much more convenient when we don’t have to depend on others to achieve our goals.

However, as I’ve said many times before, “people do business with people,” and apart from a pure ecommerce setting, there are many times when the right attention from the right person can enhance an interaction in a business setting. (Even in ecommerce, if something goes wrong, or you have a question, you want to connect with a person who understands your situation and can correct it, don’t you?)

Getting the balance between self-service offerings and providing a good customer experience can be tricky. That’s why I was curious to see how things would go when I recently headed to my local Staples store to get a few things done with their Print & Marketing Services.Gomez and me at self-serve Staples

Staples, after all, has made a splash with its Make More Happen marketing campaign in recent years, so this trip would be a good way to see if the company could maintain its promise with a self-serve, in-store experience.

First, the scanner on my printer wasn’t working properly and I needed to sign and scan a document for a client. I drove to the nearest Staples store and went in to use its self-serve printing services. I logged onto the computer, printed the contract, scanned it, and sent it off to my client.

Good so far.

I should add that while they call it self-serve, the staff was right there to help me navigate my way through the process. I also observed them helping another customer who had a large copying project and was completely confused about how to operate the equipment. They helped her through the process and she left happy to have accomplished an important task.

Route 66In addition to my self-serve printing project, I wanted to publish a small book called “66 Great Ideas to Build Brand Buzz.” The team member, Gomez, showed me various options and explained the benefits of each. I chose a nice quality paper with a spiral binding.
He asked me how soon I needed the project completed and then took my number and said they would call when the job was completed. It was ready the very next day.
Specifying what I needed and getting it ordered was easy.The end result looks amazing.In fact, if you’re one of the first 10 people to comment on this post, I’ll send you a copy.

One final thought and an important point for small business owners: before checking out, the clerk recommended that I join the Staples Rewards program. It delivered an immediate savings and I will continue earn up to5 percent back in rewards.

Be sure your employees are trained on the best way to promote your loyalty program and that they’re consistent about doing it. A good loyalty program properly promoted can dramatically raise the lifetime value of your customers.

I invite you to take a few minutes and share your thoughts with me. Remember, the first 10 responses will receive a free copy of “66 Great Ideas to Build Brand Buzz.”

Editor’s Note:  This post is sponsored by Staples.  All the thoughts and opinions are my own.