What happened to customer service?

There are simple things that can be done to ensure your customer has a good experience when shopping or doing business with you. These items don’t take money or extra staff members. They take a few minutes of your time and perhaps a little bit of effort and you need to address these items before you start a marketing campaign that will drive more customers to your business. You want those customers to have a good experience and come back often.

You can smile when someone walks in the door and greet them with a “Hello, nice to see you today” or “Hi, nice to see you, I’ll be with you in just a moment”. An acknowledgement is usually enough.

If someone calls, you can answer the phone with a pleasant voice. People will usually respond well to a good attitude even when you have to deny their request or give them the bad news that the item they are searching for is out of stock. Being kind can go a long way to seeing that customer again.

Inventory shortages, lack of staff, supply chain disruptions, new laws… none of these things are a reason to be rude. We walked into a golf shop in Gulfport, MS and were greeted with “You are REQUIRED to wear a mask here”. No one said hello, the mask mandates had been lifted in that state and we were there to play golf.. you know, outside. So, we left not because we didn’t want to wear a mask but because we don’t like people being rude to us. She could have said “Hey we are glad you chose to visit us today but we are still requiring masks. If you could grab a mask or step outside and call that number on the door, we can help you”. That’s not what happened. So, we left.

I walked into a Walgreens today to pick up some allergy medicine because well… springtime in the south… and I stood in line at the pharmacy for 15 minutes. There was a person in front of me and some people in the drive through so I expected to wait but I didn’t expect to be invisible. No one ever looked at me, spoke, nothing. So, I left.

I walked into Greer’s, a local grocery store, looking for something specific. I couldn’t find it so I was leaving when the register attendant asked if he could help. I said “Yes, I am looking for a specific item that I’ve purchased here before” and explained it to him and his response was – “Oh, you’ll have to ask someone in produce. They order that stuff” so I walked over to produce and asked the guy that was stocking the produce section and he grumbled “No, we don’t have that. I don’t even know what you’re talking about” and turned his back. So, I left.

This is what is happening to small businesses. This is why we are building self-scanning grocery stores, order placement kiosks at fast food and why consumers are moving to grocery delivery and at home dining. Our dollars are very precious and hard earned. We aren’t going to give them to people who don’t appreciate them. Teach your staff to treat your customers kindly. Most of us would prefer to shop with someone we know.

Ask a neighbor or a friend to “secret shop” your store and see what you can improve to make your customers happy and wanting to return and then advertise to that customer base and start building that momentum you need to be in business for years to come.