Two simple words that are the holy grail to millions of businesses. It is the defining ingredient for success or failure. People invest their futures and their blood sweat and tears, their time with family, their money, their dreams – all into having a business in the hopes of its success. But what truly makes a mediocre business good, and a good business great?
Why then, is customer service an absolutely dying art in our country? I have the fortune to travel our great land often, and other countries as well. Sadly, nowhere is the lack of great customer service more evident than here at home.
Our generation seems to feel that serving others is demeaning in some way. Business owners struggle with finding anyone who cares enough about their clients to give great service. It’s just about a paycheck, which is earned by the mere fact that they showed up for work.
For the person who owns a business of any size, their hard work, good product, or needed service brings a customer to its doors, but it is the employee who keeps them returning by giving great customer service.
Every day, numerous times a day, I am assaulted by mediocre to really bad customer service. From fast food drive thru’s where my order is wrong at least as often as it is right, to restaurants where I need to shoot a cannon to get my servers attention or just downright snotty servers, indifferent to the patrons, on their cell phone or chit chatting with other employees, while the customers sit waiting for someone to acknowledge them. In any type of department, electronics or grocery store where there are not enough staff to wait on the customers and when they do, they don’t know what they are selling well enough to help me anyway. In doctor’s offices, I am a number not a person, and my care is a one on a scale of 10 because we have lost care between the middlemen and insurance companies and government, who are mucking it up for me, the person who needs a service.
I have spoken with restaurant managers who say they can’t find qualified people and even if they train them, they don’t see serving as a career, don’t have a buy in, don’t really care, it’s a job as they are passing through to another phase. Their frustration is evident.
Great customer service is about training. It has to come from the top down to all of the workers in any business. If the owners and managers do not tolerate it, it can’t foment in that business. I can’t understand why someone would go to the trouble and headaches of opening a business, with all of the risk and the fees, the taxes and the oversight, and not train employees to give the greatest customer service possible. This is where the wheat separates from the chafe, where you live or die in the business world. Anyone can hang a shingle, but those who make me want to come back are those who cared that I was there in the first place and they will be the ones that find success.
It’s so basic, treat customers with respect, acknowledge them, look them in the eye and make them feel welcome. Give them the experience they came to your business to receive and nothing less. So simple yet so elusive in today’s customer experiences. There is much more to be said on the business/customer relationship. It is my passion to make it better. Stay tuned.
This article was originally featured on America Out Loud. You can read more of Linda’s work here.