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In the original Star Wars movie there is a classic scene where Obi Wan Kenobi uses The Force to convince Stormtroopers (the bad guys) that the droids he has aren’t the droids the bad guys want.

How does he do it?

He simply tells them, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” Add in a healthy dose of Jedi powers and presto, the bad guys tell him to move along. Pretty cool right?

Unfortunately I think some business owners and their employees have taken that scene a little too seriously. Jedi mind tricks don’t work in customer service. You can’t just tell me to move along and think that I will happily go about my business, forgetting about your horrible customer service.

Delusions of Jedi grandeur cost your business money.

Ask me, I can help… or not

This experience happened to someone I know quite well, to protect the innocent we’ll call him Joe.

Joe was working on a DIY home improvement project. He needed wiring to install a baseboard heater, but wasn’t sure what kind. So he went to the nearest large chain home improvement store.

Once he got to the right section he spotted an employee wearing a tag that said, “Hi I’m _____. Ask me I can help.”

Joe started to ask the employee his question and was interrupted with this statement, “I don’t know, I’m only an intern.” Then the intern went back to stocking shelves.

Not easily deterred Joe went to the customer service desk for that section of the store. He asked the employee there his question, and she proceeded to tell him it wasn’t her department. Joe pointed to a nearby aisle and informed her it was in fact in her department. Her answer, “Well then you should ask an electrician.”

At this point Joe departed for a competitor’s store. Once he found the correct section he grabbed the nearest employee and repeated his question. Turns out this store had hired – wait for it… yes they had hired a retired electrician. Joe got his answer, the right wiring and became a lifelong customer of the competitor.

To this day Joe refuses to shop at the original store. Plus whenever that store is mentioned, even if he passes it in a car, he tells his tale of woe.

Did you know shakes are made on the grill?

This story is so ridiculous that if it hadn’t happened to me I probably wouldn’t believe it.

My husband, daughter and I were on a road trip. We stopped at a gas station that also housed a fast food restuarant during the drive. While my husband pumped gas I volunteered to run in and get him a shake.

After the people in front of me ordered nothing seemed to happen. No food was being prepared, and no orders were being taken. The 3 employees working were all clustered as far back in the kitchen as they could go. It was odd and frustrating.

Fed up I asked loudly if they realized that another waiting customer and I had not yet ordered. At first they pretended not to hear me. I swear if their thoughts appeared as bubbles over their heads they would say “Maybe if we ignore her she’ll go away.” and “She can’t see me. I’m not here. She can’t see me.

I asked again, even louder. That got me blank, deer in the headlight stares. Finally one of them inched over and informed me the grill wasn’t working.

I responded that was ok, I just wanted a shake. That earned me another blank stare and a repeat of “the grill isn’t working”.

I told her that I didn’t want a anything from the grill, I just wanted a caramel shake. Once again she told me the grill wasn’t working. At this point I confess I was a wee bit annoyed. My response was a snarky “Well last I checked you don’t make shakes on the grill. How much is a caramel shake?”

If I had taken a picture (but alas I didn’t) she would have embodied the saying “deer in the headlights”. I felt as though I was seeing the human equivalent of does not compute. I gave up in disgust and left.

If I had been a local everyone I know would have heard that story, and I can guarantee you I would have never returned.

The price of delusion

If you are thinking this post sounds suspiciously like a disgruntled customer vent, you are partially right. I am a disgruntled customer, one that votes with my money, just like your customers.

However unlike me, being the shy retiring gal that I am, most unhappy customers will not tell you they are unhappy. They will tell their friends and family about how unhappy they are. They will also stop using your services or buying your products.

Failing to deliver top flight services and products hurt your business. Failing to train and empower your employees to deliver deliver top flight services and products also hurts your business and costs you money.

It is far more profitable to retain a current customer than try to find and win a new one.

Final Thoughts

Have you had a failed Jedi mind trick customer service experience? How did you react? How do you ensure that it doesn’t happen with your customers?

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