Recently I went to a pharmacy to pick up some medication. This particular pharmacy is a small, privately owned establishment and not part of a large chain. So kinda like a mom and pop, neighborhood place. I specifically support them because they are a small business and because they are located nearby.
Once inside I walked up to the counter and stood, waiting patiently to be served. Meanwhile, four employees all about six feet away from me chatted about personal matters, occasionally looking at me, and even making eye contact. A few minutes went by, and still, I am standing there waiting to be acknowledged, occasionally I smile at one of them to be polite. At this point, I am starting to study the situation... as a coach I often do just that.
Here we have a small business (pharmacy), with four employees all that have seen me, and all of them are just 'shootin the breeze'. Not one of the four have greeted me, even though I am in the place quite often, and so they likely recognize me. Five minutes pass by and no one has taken an interest in me - the customer. So I leave. Less than a block away, there is a CVS and two blocks away a Rite Aid. Both open 24 hours, and both have substantially more consumer resources than the mom and pop place. I go to the CVS to get my needs met and I am greeted by a person at the front register and later greeted by the pharmacist.
As a coach, I've advised many small business owners and entrepreneurs on basic customer service concepts. Here are a few for your consideration:
Acknowledging the customer right when they enter into your establishment. Don't go overboard with this - but say 'hello', or 'hi'... it goes a long way. Let the customer know they are welcome and that you see them.
Recognizing regular customers is something many places are failing to do but this is a great way to make the customer feel special and build loyalty.
Being accountable when it becomes obvious that a customer may not have had the best experience in your establishment.
Learn from your customer service mistakes and prevent the same from happening again.
Again these are very fundamental measures that have no cost but can pay big dividends for your future business. Customers are your business - if you do not cultivate, respect and honor them, they will walk.
Is your business keeping the customer in focus?
Scott Howard is a professional executive coach and leadership coach focusing on human empowerment and maximizing potential.