N Saturday, November 01, 2014
   
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Customer Service - A Study in Contrasts (by Dr. Jerry Osteryoung)

Dr-osteryoung-headshot-new"There is a spiritual aspect to our lives - when we give, we receive - when a business does something good for somebody, that somebody feels good about them!" ~ Ben Cohen, Ben & Jerry's

Some businesses really get the importance of customer service and others just do not.  In many cases, those that do not get it compete on price alone, knowing that price is all their customers really want.  However, this type of business strategy does nothing to ensure loyalty or repeat business.  In my opinion, business owners who do not provide great customer service either do not see its value, do not have the funds to support it or are simply missing its profit potential.

Two of my recent encounters with businesses demonstrate the polar extremes of customer service.  On one end of the spectrum is a restaurant I visited in Hollywood, Florida.  I was in Hollywood to deliver a speech, and some clients and I went to this restaurant when we broke for lunch.

When we walked into the restaurant, there was no one in the entire place - no customers, not even staff!  After waiting for a short while - not really sure why we waited at all - an elderly man came out, walked up to the table and said, "What do you want!"

The greeting - if you can call it that - was completely devoid of any welcome or friendliness, and the lunch service got worse from there.  We had to ask for menus, silverware and salt.  I even had to walk into the back of the restaurant to find him and ask for our check, which he delivered five minutes later.

The quality of service at this restaurant was so bad that, if I had not experienced it myself, I probably would not believe it possible.  Needless to say, we will not be going back to this restaurant.  Ever.

I just can't imagine why anyone would allow a business to be operated like this unless it was an anomaly.  But in the case of this restaurant, it was not just an off day.  After talking with some other folks who had been there before - something I probably should have done first - I discovered this horrible customer service is standard for that place.

In stark contrast, my experiences at So Pure Salon in Tallahassee are always amazing, from the moment I walk in to the moment I walk out.

When I walk into the salon, I am always immediately greeted with a warm smile and offered something to drink.  My stylist, Christine, is excellent.  She goes out of her way to make me feel special, whether it is by giving me a short scalp massage while washing my hair or being sincerely concerned that I am happy with my hair.

When she is finished with my hair, she walks me to the front desk - these little gestures make such a difference - where she gets them to schedule my next appointment.  Three days before the appointment, they always text and call to remind me.

Another special thing about Christine is that whenever I talk to her about her customers, she never refers to them as "customers" but calls them "guests" and is always very respectful.

These extra special touches permeate the entire experience at this salon.  For example, when I buy hair products, the cashier/greeter rings me up and puts the product(s) in a bag, but instead of handing me the package over the counter, she walks around the counter to hand me the bag.  It is such a nice touch.

Given these accounts, it should not surprise you that So Pure Salon just doubled in size and the restaurant will not likely last another year.

While these two examples are extremes, they clearly illustrate how a business that puts tremendous emphasis on customer service flourishes and one that does not languishes.

Now go out and make sure that customer service is always at the top of your mind.  Your business will be much more successful if you do.

You can do this!


Jerry Osteryoung is the Director of Outreach of The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship in the College of Business at The Florida State University; The Jim Moran Professor Emeritus of Entrepreneurship; and Professor Emeritus of Finance.  He was the founding Executive Director of The Jim Moran Institute and served in that position from 1995 through 2008.  His newest book co-authored with Tim O'Brien, "If You Have Employees, You Really Need This Book," is an Amazon.com bestseller.  He can be reached by e-mail at jerry.osteryoung@gmail.com.  All of Osteryoung's articles can be found in a searchable format at http://jmi.fsu.edu/Services/Jerry-s-Articles.

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