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Monday, November 10, 2014

Serve Well, My Friend

Getting a business on the success track and keeping it there takes a lot of effort and insight. There are very challenging variables such as maturing markets, hiring the right people, learning to cut unnecessary costs, and improving productivity. But one very simple step to increase sales and keep people coming back can be summed up in two words: customer service.

I saw it fail AGAIN this weekend at a local Walmart. Stepping up to the pharmacy drop off window, I came face to face with a pharmacy worker. During my first 2-3 minutes at the window, another pharmacy teammate came to another dropoff window immediately to my left. Both managed to score a big fat zero on giving ANY kind of greeting.

The woman in front of me was completing paperwork for a customer down the line. I understand. I was only looking for a smile. A welcome. An indication a real human was at her window. And perhaps a comment asking for patience. That’s all. But that was too much for either of two window dressings.

I am not anti-Walmart. I like them. In fact, I also shop at a Sam’s Club where they have an excellent pharmacist who gives some of the BEST customer service I’ve seen in that kind of work. No, this isn’t about some bone to pick with Walmart. It is strictly about lousy customer service.

Let’s pretend a rumor circulated that Brad Pitt was in the store. And suppose he had a pharmacy question. I have a strong suspicion my two pharmacy workers would have dropped everything for the honor of helping Brad. In fact, the woman who was too busy to greet me might have told the other customer to get lost! IF…it was Brad Pitt. Alas, it was little ol’ me.

So this weekend, I read this marvelous article in the New York Times about, get this, GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE. Not for a single company, mind you, but for an entire town in Colorado! It happened in Steamboat Springs.

Faced with declining numbers in a survey about a willingness to recommend the town to others, the chief executive of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association encouraged the community leaders to bring in a specialist to help improve customer service. You can read the whole story in the Times.

My friend, this is not rocket science. Well, it SHOULDN’T be. It is so shockingly easy that even children can learn it. And I hope they do.

Greet people. Take an interest in them. Walk them to where they need to find an item they want. Thank them. Ask for their patience with a smile if you must ask them to wait a moment. Be courteous. Carry stuff to their car.

And why? Because it’s the right thing to do. It makes YOU feel better. You get better tips. More repeat business. You might even keep your job!

Imagine. A consultant is needed to ‘splain this stuff. Hey…SHOW ME THE MONEY! But I offer this freely.

Who’s listening? 

Jesus of Nazareth had a message regarding how we apply wisdom in our lives. In defending his associations with “sinners” and confounding his enemies, he stated, “Well, the proof of wisdom is in the actions it produces.” (CJB)

No single thing in building a healthy business costs less to implement than basic, excellent customer service.

I’m confident event Brad Pitt knows that!

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays, 4-6 pm on AM 1160 WYLL in Chicago. Check the web for WYLL and the app for AM 1160 to listen live. Or by podcast.

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