As a business owner do you stress or worry where your clientele will come from tomorrow?
Do you wonder if the customer that stopped in last week will be back or what they will tell their friends?
Will you ever come up in a conversation of theirs?
As a matter of fact, you hope you do and in a good way. I think owning a business where you have sunk your life savings in and along with your heart and soul, can be very stressful.
I'm crazy obsessed with customer service and by that I mean I'm very judgemental when it comes to how I'm treated as a consumer. You might have heard my story before but let me tell it again. I worked several summers for tourism in the Black Hills. So much so that I became pretty good at guiding tourists around the Black Hills as well as to Yellowstone. What I did learn from my years as Grayline Bus Tour saleswoman, a desk receptionist, employers and customers, is that they come first. If your employees do not understand that, they really should be working at a desk in the backroom or stocking shelves but definitely not be up front with your customers.
I worked with a tourist who came in tired and frustrated and was unhappy with everything we tried to do for him. I could not do it right, the site was not right, the bathrooms are in the wrong location, there were no trees, the tour was so expensive and on and on. He started yelling at me instead of his wife and children, who were not present. I took it from him. My nature is not to take guff off anyone usually, but it was perhaps the first lesson of many to come. Some people call it "kissing up" and I did it like it was an art form. My bosses had taught me that whatever the customers want, they get; after all they are paying.
Looking back now I cannot even picture or remember what was said that could have gotten me to crying behind the corner after he had left. It had to have been that he cut me to the quick or was so rude that it was like a punch in the gut. Whatever it was it stayed with me. My boss heard it all and stayed in the office behind the scene. At this time in my life, I cannot imagine crying now and taking it so much to heart. I probably took it personally, when really the guy was simply having a horrible day. For some people, driving across the State of South Dakota is enough stress as it is. Then add in small children or even teenagers, the incurred expenses, the itinerary, and many other factors and you can see the stress building. It's human nature, I think, to take it personally.
Right about now, are you thinking that the boss should have intervened? I think in this day and age, perhaps a boss would have. But I was not in danger or physically being harmed; the customer was simply unhappy. My job was to make him feel we would do anything to have and keep his business and to have him return and tell his friends about us. I did that to the best of my ability.
That gentleman, as my boss taught me, comes first. I wonder sometimes if that message is still conveyed in this newer age. Sometimes older and younger employees, who work in businesses, cannot even raise their heads or stop what they're doing behind the counter to greet the customer. Some appear like they could care less that I might spend a few bucks in their store. But whether I'm going to spend $10 or $100 should not matter. The fact that I came into your store better mean something. I don't necessarily want someone following me around, but I sure as heck watch to see if my being there matters to them.
As a business owner you also had better think about those customers coming back in and telling their friends. Unless you have thousands of dollars to spend on advertising which in and of itself is not a guarantee, you need them to have a reason to come back. You need it to be a pleasant and productive visit when they come in the first time so it gains you repeat business.