Photo technician Shawn from Shoppers Drug Mart made my day

Terrible customer service is par for the course these days. Most retail stores are understaffed and the staff they do have take out their frustration on customers. Ever try to find help at a Home Depot on a Saturday? I propose a slight modifcation to Home Depot's tagline: "You can do it. We can help if you can find us!"

Restaurants are no better. We all have countless horror stories. One recent story stars my wife and I with our toddler and infant. We were having dinner with two friends in Calgary and waited almost two hours for our food to come. At the 80-minute mark, our server had to retake our order after apologizing for the computer losing our original order. Did I mention he knocked over a fancy drink into one of our friend's laps complete with glass shards? Yikes.

So when I do receive outstanding customer service it is a welcome surprise. Last night it came in the form of Shawn, a photo technician at the Shoppers Drug Mart near our home. After dinner, we loaded the kids into the double jogger and strolled over to the store. Our mission: passport photos. With the new laws requiring a passport for international air travel, I need to have a passport to fly to the Partnership Symposium in Indianapolis this October.

Since it is such a pain to get a passport (the paperwork, the photos, the declaration by a guarantor, the travel to the passport office and the dreaded line ups), I figured let's get the whole family done at once.

This is where Shawn came in. Tim and Jan were no problem. As a nice touch, he had a woman from the cosmetics department powder my wife's face to get ride of any shine (we had just walked a mile to get there).

Aidan, our four-year-old son, was very well behaved, but it was tricky to get him to balance on top of the three reems of copy paper Shawn stacked onto the chair and to sit perfectly still without a smile. Twenty minutes later and two test prints later, Aidan's was done.

Now came Elise's turn. She is eight months, wiggly and has a constant smile. This is not a recipe for passport-photo success! Dozens of attempts later (including Shawn, a few helpful customers and my son trying to get her to look at the camera), we didn't get a passable photo for Elise.

Shawn never once showed any frustration. He looked like he truly loves his job. During the time he helped us, he juggled taking photo-processing orders from other customers and even sold a digital camera while he was at it. He never made us feel like we were even waiting. Our bill was $30. Amazing!

We are returning tonight with Elise in her car seat determined to get the shot. We will be successful because Shawn starts at 3:00 today.

What can your credit union learn from Shawn to improve member service?

  • Shawn knew his audience and acted in a way to best help them. He didn't have to look us up in a whiz-bang CRM system. He just treated us like friends needing help. He heard our names once and remembered and used them for the hour (yes one hour) that he helped us.
  • He was helpful, patient and listened. Shawn took the time understand our needs. He saw the challenge before him and got to work.
  • You could tell that he was service driven not sales driven. You could tell that Shawn was never told to hurry up and get more customers through. This comes from an organization that knows that service ultimately drives sales. Credit unions need to make sure they enable their staff to provide the best member service possible in a timely manner not a hurried manner. But don't go over board—it should not be like the DMV or the post office.

Encourage every staff member at your credit union to provide incredible member service all day, everyday. The rewards are remarkable—your members won't even know another financial institution exists.

Tim