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Businesses need customer service or they die

Nothing like walking into a business to spend your hard-earned money and have the person who is supposed to be helping you act like you are bothering them! Offering good customer service is both the easiest and least expensive improvement that any business can make so why is it so hard to find good customer service anymore? Is it because in our mobile and online world purchasing has become a task devoid of human interaction and therefore no longer personable? Possibly, but there are other reasons also.

In a small town, the need for good customer service is amplified. There are fewer new customers so a business needs repeat customers. Even large companies with many locations need to have good customer service in a small town. I have traveled Highway 95 between northern and southern Nevada way too many times over the years to count. Tonopah is sort of the halfway point and a convenient place to stop, grab a quick bite, hit the restroom, and then get back on the road. At the south end of Tonopah was McDonald’s. For years, there really wasn’t too many other places to stop in Tonopah so the McDonald’s got a lot of traveler business. But it was consistently an awful experience. The person taking your order was generally busy talking to some friends in the lobby and barely paid any attention to you, the food was often poorly made, and you frequently had to wait far too long for “fast” food. I really dreaded having to stop there because I knew it was going to be less than pleasant. As new businesses come to the area the McDonald’s poor reputation for service cost it business and one day, it was gone!

So why was is customer service so bad?

It is not being taught to employees. Most jobs, you are lucky to get any sort of new employee orientation and your training might be a couple of hours with someone that knows the essential duties of what you need to know to work. Companies would be far better off taking time to properly train new employees on customer service. And monthly meetings to refresh current employees is an innovative idea too!

Not hiring the right person. I think it’s more important to hire the person who has the personality to fit what the job requires and not worry about skill set. You can teach skills, you can’t teach personality.

Companies not creating a culture of customer service. It starts with sharing the company’s vision with employees and letting them know how important all their roles are in the company’s success. If all departments within a company do not understand that everyone shares in delivering great customer service, those who are on the front lines dealing with customers will feel like they aren’t supported by the rest of the employees. That goes for the person at the top of the company also. If they aren’t available to solve problems and help with customers then they are not setting a good example.

Profits may take precedence over customer service. Many companies would rather focus on sales to drive more profit — as they’re afraid of bankruptcy — than in customer service. Well, they hold a misconception on that. There must be a balance between gaining profit and delivering a great service experience. Bad customer service will eventually run customers away, effectively driving profits down. Focusing on price instead of customer service is backwards. Deliver great customer service and price becomes less important if it’s reasonable and fair.

“It’s not my job”. Yes, it is if you want to stay employed and in business. Apathy from employees can kill customer service and drive a company down faster than just about anything. All too often employees feel that they are just putting in their time. “Hey, I’m making minimum wage and my boss is making big money, let him/her deal with the customers.” Everyone has a role in a business. Sometimes that boss that is making big money is also dealing with many other issues that you are not even aware of and working long hours to do their job. You can be a star to your boss by delivering great customer service and a good manager will reward those who shine brightest.

Being kind, polite, smiling, and interacting with a customer, showing that you want to be helpful really takes no more effort than being sullen, frowning, and shying away from helping people. Yes, there are some difficult and unreasonable customers. Fortunately, they are in the minority.

If you receive great customer service let that person know, it would really make them smile knowing that their efforts are appreciated! All too often we choose to rant and not rave when raving is far more beneficial to everyone!

Tim Burke is a businessman, philanthropist, educator and Pahrump resident. Contact him at timstakenv@gmail.com

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