Retail Management's role in Customer Service

On a recent driving trip through Arizona and New Mexico I found myself in a number of very small towns with few restaurant choices. While I typically try to avoid fast food I decided that one national franchise chain would have to do for breakfast, as they were found in almost every small town in that region of the country. The food served was actually decent and made for a reasonable start to the day, particularly while driving through the high plains of northern New Mexico.

During my stops I did notice, however, a particularly interesting response to the dollar-off coupons that corporate had distributed to the franchisees to push sales - they were being distributed with each transaction, but nobody had been trained to accept them. Repeatedly when the coupons were presented with an order, the entire transaction stopped, while associate after associate took turns giving their ideas on how to ring them in to the POS system. 

I literally sat at the drive-up window while cars waited behind me long enough for them to drive off. On one occasion all the associates came out of the restaurant to serve the cars behind me by walking the food out to the cars, taking money and having to make a second trip out to make change. As somewhat of a type A personality, I didn't like being made to wait like that, but I did recognize the chance to learn from this situation and I made it worth the anxiety. 

I think this situation was a very clear example of how a retail management department (Marketing) can do an admirable job of creating a sales stimulating promotion, but the field staff must be trained to handle the promotion. Likewise, the IT department must insure that the POS system is ready to process  the transaction with the promotional coupon in a very simple manner. How many other times have we been in stores and had to wait while an associate is unable complete a transaction? 

This very basic situation presented an extremely clear example to me of how important it is for all of our retail activities to have a customer service focus (not just sales promotions). We need to be continually asking ourselves .... "How do all my procedures effect my customer service? Should they be improved? Am I driving more sales or am I driving my customers away? In this instance, despite the best intentions of the marketing department, I observed the coupons were costing the retailer approximately ten times the value of my transaction - on sales lost while other customers literally drove away due to the excessively long transaction wait time. I have seen the same end result occur in line in numerous stores when the sales associate could not complete a transaction, due to different types of complications ranging from no price shown to register problems. 

Do you know what your customers are experiencing??