I have another special guest blog post. I’m pleased to have Bill Packard, a native Mainer, small business and customer service expert. Please take a few moments to read about important lessons in running a business and feel free to make comments. It’s a nice touch for Bill to include it the week of Mother’s Day. Bill- thank you for the contribution and sharing!
Here’s the first lesson my mother taught me about Customer service. If people don’t come through the door of The Lucky Strike Lanes, have a good time, and leave money, you don’t get new clothes for school. I am not now, nor was I then a fashion conscious guy, but some things are very important to a middle school male and new clothes for the start of the school year was very close to the top of the list of important things.
With mom, everything was about the Customer. There were rules. They were rules that employees did not break.
- You always open on time, ready to do business.
- You make sure the Customer has whatever they need.
- Everything is CLEAN. Got that? Everything.
- Do what you can to make the Customer’s visit a fun thing for them.
- Count the Customer’s change back to them. (We didn’t have fancy cash registers.)
- Don’t start cleaning up from the day when Customers are still in the building.
- Don’t ever, ever, ever turn out the lights or the sign until after closing time and if Customers are still in the building after closing time, don’t ever, ever, ever turn out the lights or the sign.
I hope these all look pretty familiar to you if you’re in business, but here’s what happens sometimes. The business owner is clear about their expectations but somewhere down the line as those expectations are passed down, there is a disconnect. My goal is to do what I can to repair that disconnect.
Let me give you an example. I was returning from a business trip several years ago with a company vehicle that needed fuel. The company I worked for had an account with a terrific company that stressed excellent Customer service and provided fuel and other things. I arrived at a store very close to closing time and started the pump running. Before the vehicle was full, the pump shut off. Within just a few seconds, the lights went out. I was kind of shocked so it took me a few minutes to realize what was going on. I went into the building and said I was not done filling the vehicle, and the person behind the counter told me, “We close at 9.” That was obviously not the company policy and I’m sure they would have been extremely upset had they known about it.
Having excellent, superior, over the top Customer service is a good solid position to start from as an owner, but if that’s not communicated down to the people in the trenches, it’s not going to be a reality. And when your employee handles things the way the employee in the example did, that becomes the level of service your company provides in the minds of your Customers.
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