These last few weeks being out and about shopping I’ve come across some unusually bad customer service. Your customers are every thing and most of the time they don’t expect much. The image that your business presents to customer can make or break your business. One negative experience can result in a customer never coming back.

  • Know your product. I was in a small diner and asked about a menu item. The waitress had no idea that they even served that item. She wasn’t new and the item has been on the menu ever since we have been going there.
  • Know your pricing. We were looking to buy some furniture. The sale was for the set but you could buy each piece separate and still get a sale price. The sales person couldn’t figure out the price of each item, it took him 5 minutes and he ended up over quoting us twice before he settled on a price.
  • Don’t forget your customers. The store clerk went in back to do something and left me, the customer in the store all alone. She wasn’t helping me, she was hindering me with my shopping.
  • Don’t block the path. I was walking into a store and there were a few people collecting for a charity out front. Kind of a normal thing in front of this store. The one guy actually stepped in front of me, blocking the entrance to the store. Even after I politely declined, he kept shifting so I couldn’t get around him. I had to fake going the one way then dart the other way to get past him.
  • Don’t complain. At least don’t complain in front of customers. Went to ask for help and two store clerks were complaining to one another about not wanting to be at work. They continued to complain as they helped me.

The sad thing is every one of the above could have been easily avoided. None of the experiences were that bad where I would just totally stop shopping at any of the businesses but if I have a choice, I will probably go some place else or second guess the business for a while. I also wanted to share the above experiences because three of the business are locally owned, non chain stores. Businesses that depend on people like you and me.

Because I don’t want to end on a bad note, here are a few positive customer service experiences I’ve had lately.

  • Know your product. I picked up the wrong product model (same product type, same price) to use with a coupon, the cashier without even ringing it through the system knew it was the wrong one. She grabbed the right one for me.
  • Taking orders. When I discovered my takeout order was wrong after I got home, I saw I had gotten part of what the person behind me ordered and they probably got  part of what I ordered. When I went back to get it corrected, they remade my whole order, told me to keep the messed up order, gave me a free meal card, and a drink while I was waiting. 

Both places I’ve shopped at before and will return because good service is more than just getting it right every time.

For this week, learn from your customer services experiences. As a small business what are you doing to provide excellent customer service? I’d like to hear some stories of you going above and beyond for your customers.