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Customer Service Review

March 2, 2009

The title of Charles Dickens popular novel, “The Tale of Two Cities,” came to mind yesterday as I experienced two drastically opposite customer service policies in two local businesses. Within a half hour, I experienced an unacceptable customer service experience back to back with one of the best. The businesses were located fifteen minutes away from each other but their customer service policies were light years away.

For seven years I have used one office supplier and source for copying promotional and event materials. They are one of my major vendors. Most of the employees know who I am because I’m there frequently. I would consider my account one of their important small business accounts. So when one of their employees refused to copy my headshot I needed for the Girl Scouts Cookie College flyer, I was stunned. Citing new copyright policies the employee and the night manager threw their new copyright policy brochure on the order desk and told me to read it. There was no room for discussion, no flexibility, no way to get the work done. The only option was to walk out the front door.

Fifteen minutes later, when I entered the front doors of  a brand new vendor to our family, I was sincerely welcomed by their front desk clerk. The visit continued with a discussion by their manager who was working for the second time on repairing our car since we had experienced reoccurring problems with their repair work. Their policy was to “make everything right” no matter how much time it took them or what it cost. Instead of sticking to a written policy, they threw cooperation and understanding into the mix making sure we wouldn’t walk out the front door disappointed.

The tale of these two businesses are a tale of today’s business times. When frigid economic times hit small businesses they have two distinct choices. The first is to seek, serve and retain clients. The second is to disappoint, reject and lose clients. It’s not complicated. It’s a simple and clear choice by the owner of the company. The owner’s policy, whether it’s good or bad, always trickles down to the front line employees.

Today I hope you will review your customer service policy and make sure all your employees know what it is and follow it. I can guarantee you customers will sing your praises if you treat them well and they’ll leave if you don’t. Make sure you work to retain loyal customers through excellent service so they keep coming back through your front doors.

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