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Don’t lose your customers with bad customer service

Everyone has an expectation of how they should be treated when shopping, dining out, traveling or using a provided service, and rightfully so. You are spending your hard earned dollars for goods and services and you want to feel like you matter and are getting the best for your money. Unfortunately, there are times when your expectations are not met.  Possibly due to limitations of the services provided, or the person with whom you are interacting with is having a bad day; which we all have every now and then. But when you do have a bad experience or negative interaction, chances are you become disenchanted and choose to take your business elsewhere, as I have on a couple of occasions.

Last month I went to a store that is down the street from my house. There is another store, that is slightly closer, where I can get the same goods, but I chose this location because I like their prices better. Sadly, within 10 minutes of being in this location I became irritated with the service. I waited for about five minutes, which felt like 15, to be addressed, when no one else was at the counter.  When the employee did finally come out from the back to attend to me, I was greeted rudely and the body language and tone of voice made me feel as though I was an inconvenience.  Needless to say, I go to the other location now, where just the other day my son and I were shopping and had the following experience: It’s a busy time of year so there are shipper displays all over the store and one in particular had slightly come undone on the edges. One of those edges caught the side of the basket, and being a top heavy display, fell easily to the floor sending all the product inside all over the tile. Luckily these were boxes and not jars. We immediately began to pick up our mess when out of nowhere someone walked by and told us please don’t worry about it and someone would come and pick it up shortly. Not willing to show my son that we don’t have to pick up after ourselves, or own up to mistakes, we stayed put.  But again just seconds later another employee came rushing over and told us very nicely not to worry about it as he began helping us pick up the mess until it was back the way it was.  Later on in the shopping trip we came across both individuals separately and were greeted with warm smiles.  The contrast in those experiences is exactly why I will spend more money to shop the second location.

Another contrast in experiences happened at a local dry cleaners.  Recently, after moving I noticed a cleaner really close to my new home and sought to try them out because of the convenience factor.  The very first time I used them they ripped the sleeve off one of my dress shirts, completely ruining the shirt unless I wanted to create some kind of new hybrid Larry the Cable Guy style.  When speaking with the owner about the incident his resolution was to give me $45 in free dry cleaning service vouchers. I wanted my shirt to be reimbursed in cash so that I could replace the item.  This was not agreeable to the owner and after discussing in circles for about 20 minutes I left with only the free dry cleaning.  I have not been back.  Instead, I drive completely out of my way to go to the same dry cleaner I have used for years, where I am greeted with a smile and some brief small talk.

So as you can tell, I am a big proponent of good customer service.  I will even give a restaurant a second or third try when I don’t like the food if they have good service.  Here are a few of my suggestions for good customer service.

– Regardless of your business type, customer service should be a focal point of your training and everyday practice.  Spend time discussing and teaching your employees, run through scenarios and escalation protocols.

– You may be the expert and the customer you are dealing with maybe incorrect, but good customer service people put their pride aside, listen to the customer, and resolve the issue.  Good listening and asking the right questions will almost always help you identify what the customer needs to make them happy and come back.

– Owners and employees should be warm friendly and attentive, your customers will feel comfortable and appreciated.

– Attempt to anticipate needs, a good suggestion can save the customer another trip.  We are all busy, so being able to save time is always appreciated.

– Keep the pulse of your customers, ask them about their experience and for ideas on any areas of improvement.  Never be complacent and think you have it all figured out.

– Always do what you say, follow through on your commitments, and if you fail, own up to it.  Respect can be won or lost in seconds and should be mutual.  Failure to admit when you’re wrong is an insult to the intelligence of the other individual and will destroy your credibility.

– Finally, treat your employees well.  They are an extension of you and a well treated employee will smile easier and not hesitate to go above and beyond.

Why do I work at AWG? “Having grown up locally, my second job as a teenager was actually at Price Chopper on 78th and State Ave., also throughout the years I have known many family and friends that have worked, or are still employed with AWG. Given all my exposure to AWG I have seen a stable, growing, company that cares about it’s employees. The qualities which I hold highest from an employer.” -Bryan