You walk up and down the aisles of a store … Can I help you? You call up your trusted business advisor … Can I help you?
Can I help you? This is the battle cry of the service trade from front line customer service to skilled professional service practitioners. Whether you work in a call center or a hospital, your exchange with those you serve usually begins with some variation on can I help you?
Given the current economic climate, this phrase takes on an even more complex and urgent meaning. Our customers’ circumstances have changed, people are making decisions differently, and – most of all – our lives are more complicated. Now more than ever, people are looking for help beyond having their basic needs met. We all need to ask ourselves, is there something more we can be doing to serve our customers. Even something small …
Earlier this week I got an email from Staples with the subject line ‘Will Office Depot closings affect you?’ which included a brief news re-cap about the closings and info on the stability of Staples. Initially I thought that this was a shrewd move – capitalizing on the weakened status of a competitor. But then I thought about it for a bit. Maybe there’s not a lot of brand loyalty in the office supplies business. Staples vs. Office Depot vs. Office Max. Maybe people just duck into what is closest to them. And with one of the giants fallen, maybe someone’s already-complicated life could be pushed even further if they didn’t know where to get their paper clips. People are looking for security and reassurance. And in one little email Staples went a long way toward communicating that.
Staples took a step back and asked can I help you? When you consider this with the fact that Staples has built it’s brand on ease of use (Staples – that was easy) it becomes more than obvious that this was a brand-savvy, customer-centric move in a critical time when we all need to need to be doing that. When we need to remember to ask – Can I help you?