When you own a business, be it small or large, customer service can make or break you.
So I am continually amazed when I go to a restaurant or store and receive bad service. It's the little things, but I think those moments speak loudly about a business, its management and its employees.
Recent case in point? I went to a drive-thru for a drink on my way to a meeting. At the first window, the woman took my money and handed me my change in silence. At the second window, the man handed me the beverage without even looking toward me, all the while chatting away with another person inside the eatery.
It was amazingly bad service – and this happens at more than just fast-food restaurants.
There's a flip side to this though … bad customers.
I spoke to a local business owner recently who told me a story about some customers who entered his establishment with their dog. The owner came over to assist the couple, only to find the dog was sitting on the merchandise.
When he asked the couple to remove the dog, the couple was immediately negative, with an attitude that their dog had every right to be upon the merchandise.
The store doesn't cater to pets – it's a retail merchandise store. How could the business owner sell something covered in dog hair? What if the potential buyer had allergies? But the dog's owners didn't see this through their sense of entitlement.
Customer service is often a two-way street. We should expect it when we're out and about, but in return, we also need to be kind and courteous to those who are working in the stores.
And great customer service goes a long way.
Customers will return – repeatedly – when they've been treated well. Treat them poorly, and more often than not, they won't step foot in your establishment again. Not only that, they will let their friends know about their experiences.
But when customers are impressed, they tell their friends, and they also spend more money at your business, which is ultimately the goal for a business owner, right?
And from the business perspective, I can't tell you how wonderful it is to interact with polite people. Polite customers make our day. The callers who yell before we get a “Good morning” out? Those are a little tougher. We don't mind criticism, but it can be delivered kindly or aggressively, which can set a tone for the rest of our day.
It's a good reminder that politeness – on both sides of the transaction – goes a long way.