As most of you know by now, I live in a small town.
A VERY small town. One of those places where everyone knows everyone else, so you cannot really give someone the finger for driving too slow or talk badly about someone for fear that the person you are talking to is related to said person. However, there is one thing that really gets a lot of attention in a town like this – you, the customer. When your entire populace is about the size of a large inner-city high school, every person that comes into your place of business is of the utmost importance…at least they should be. But some business owners don’t understand that yet, and they probably also don’t realize the danger of “word of mouth” in a town like this.
I was talking with a friend the other day who could not believe the way she was treated by a business here in town. The business will remain nameless, as I doubt anyone here reads this site anyway, but now I know not to do my shopping there because of my friends’ recommendation. There are a few other places that sell the same type of products as this business does, so I have a choice whether to shop with them. And if the name of the business comes up in another conversation I have with a different person, I will tell the story to them…and so on. The chain will continue going in circles in this town! Eventually businesses that act like this get a reputation for bad customer service and folks take their business elsewhere. Talk about not taking care of your bread and butter!
photo credit: hyku
Customer service is what keeps your business alive and thriving, above everything else. No matter what you sell, no matter what service you provide…if you do not have good customer service you are shooting yourself in the foot. Especially in a town as small as this one is! Another person I know had a local contractor at her house doing some work, where he proceeded to accidentally rip up her utility lines. Instead of apologizing profusely for the mistake and maybe even discounting her bill a bit, he demanded full payment and wanted her to pay for his mistake. This is a building contractor who depends on word of mouth to get work around here, and he did this to a real estate agent! That is just plain stupidity at it’s finest. Pissing off a real estate agent, who is always dealing with clients looking at houses that need remodeling, is pretty damn dumb.
Good customer service doesn’t have to just exist on a local level, however – it needs to be national as well. In today’s world of Facebook, Twitter, email, instant messenging, and blogs like this one, a bad experience can reach thousands of people in just mere minutes. A few examples of national companies not going the extra mile include my experience with DirecTV and their terrible customer service, Jim from Bargaineering.com’s experience with Zecco, and Being Frugal’s experience with web host LunarPages.
I am no business owner, other than my blogs, but if I were I would spend money on customer service training for my employees. And I would always do my best to make sure my customers were happy with whatever service or product I was selling. A little effort can go a long way to keeping customers coming back for more!
So what about you? Any horrible customer service stories we should know about? How about any great ones that more people should hear about? Let’s share in the comments and spread the word, both good and bad!