Am I a Problem?

Am I a Problem?

"There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else."

~ Sam Walton

Funny. I thought that at least if the customer wasn't always right, then at least they would not be an annoyance to the customer service person taking their money!

I walked into a "convenience" store last week to buy a gift card as a present for a friend. After the first swipe, I kindly pointed out to the cashier that she had charged me double. "Humph" came the response.

The second attempt brought with it a long sigh when I mentioned that she had keyed in the wrong amount. The third attempt did not provide the desired result either when she could not get the card to activate at all. "You know", she said to me in a disgusted tone, "I'm getting really annoyed!"

She finally was able to get the deal done the way I had asked for initially to which my response was, "I'm sorry to have annoyed you." To which her response was another louder and deeper "Humph."

Do you think her boss, manager or the store's owner would like me to mention the name of that store? I'm guessing not.

Willard Marriott got it right a long time ago when he regularly preached to his managers to "Take care of your associates and they'll take care of your customers." I wonder how well-trained and well-cared for the employees of that particular store are. Although I already have a guess.

Well trained and appreciated associates are happier in their work and do a better job taking care of your customers. And if you don't take care of your customers they will vote with their feet and spend their money elsewhere. Customer retention is every bit and often even more important than customer acquisition efforts because it costs so much to gain a new customer. And it costs a lot to lose one as well.

Stating the obvious, just so you know, don't take your customers for granted – they are your boss. "Thank you for your business" and "please come again" still work well to make customers feel good and appreciated. And even an "I'm sorry that didn't go smoothly" when needed will usually work wonders.

I won't be a problem for that store again. Because I won't be going back.

Brian Butler is the VP Business Development of The Allied Group and TAGmedica. He is also the author of two books: Find 'Em Get 'Em Keep 'Em and the recently released In Search Of...Customers!

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