By: Carole Fawcett

Good customer service is vital for the success of any business or job that deals with the public. If the following three things are done consistently, customers will happily return to a business.

1. Courtesy and respect toward others at all times.

2. Knowledge of the product and if that knowledge is lacking, searching out the answers from others.

3. A willingness to provide more than is expected. Going above and beyond a job description to make sure the customer has a positive experience.

I was the lucky recipient of this at a downtown grocery store. I purchased flowers (two colours as well as babys breath.) The person who wrapped them, took them out of the cellophane, then artistically arranged them before wrapping them in paper for me. He took the opportunity to go above and beyond. Would I return there to buy more flowers? You bet I will.

A friend recently told me about an unhappy experience she had at a car dealership recently. Her car would not start one morning and she thought it was likely due to an older battery. So, she called the dealership. A neighbour boosted her vehicle and she arrived at the dealership mid morning.

As it was a blustery winter day she was told that it would be difficult to predict when it would be ready for pick up. So after a couple of hours she phoned. Not ready. She phoned again in one hour. Not ready. So, she phoned again in about 1 hours. She said that each time she phoned she was pleasant and friendly. She was not a demanding customer. Once it was ready, the dealership sent their driver to pick her up.

She arrived at the dealership to pick up the car and was greeted by the Service Manager who said, Well, maybe well call you every hour tomorrow just like you did us today. After this sarcastic comment, my friend paid her bill and then was left to make her way to her car with her grocery bags and her dog.

She asked where her car was and the Service Manager waved in the general direction of the snow covered parking lot. She could not find her car in the parking lot, so the Service Manager went outside show her where it was. Despite the fact that it was covered in snow, and that my friend had her hands full, there was no offer to help brush the snow off the car. There it is he said and walked inside the building.

An apology was later given to this woman after she wrote a letter to the Manager, but my friend told me that she felt it was lacking in sincerity. She told me that the Service Manager referred to it as a miscommunication implying that he bore little responsibility for the situation. Sarcasm is not miscommunication, it is disrespectful.

No offer to give car washes, an oil change, or even have flowers on hand for the customer as a way to show the apology was genuine. It was a missed opportunity to turn around a situation that created negative feelings. Will my friend return to this car dealership? Not likely.

As she told me, she realizes that nobody is perfect and that people have bad days. But it is the response to the complaint that shows the difference between a place of business that genuinely cares about customers and one that doesnt.

How do you and your staff measure up when it comes to customer service? Are unhappy customers looked upon as an opportunity for growth and learning? How you treat your employees will reflect on how they treat your customers.

Some wise unknown soul said, If we dont take care of our customers, someone else will.

About the author:

Carole Fawcett is a stress management consultant, keynote speaker, workshop presenter, laughter coach and freelance writer. She is a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada. She lives in the beautiful Okanagan Valley in British Columbia.

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