June 19, 2010

In today’s economy, I don’t understand how any business can prosper with poor service. That’s why I devoted eleven chapters in my book to the art of customer service and loyalty. I had two recent experiences that underscore the power of a positive customer experience.

The first one was a simple stop for a quick meal at a family run Thai restaurant in Talent, Oregon. My wife and I arrived close to closing and our server was busy checking something on her laptop. Someone had converted a corner table into a make shift office area. It was obvious that “take out” was more important than “dine in” ambiance. Anyway, we waited at the door to be acknowledged, and when that failed, we took a seat. Finally our server arrived. By her tone and manner it was clear we were an interruption to closing and her online life. Taking our order and delivering it was the extent of service.  Now, here’s the bottom-line. The food was OK. Not great, but certainly acceptable. But because service was non-existent and the whole evening wasn’t a “welcoming experience,” we won’t be back.

Now contrast this to Ken’s Glass and Screen Service in Medford, Oregon (541-772-3844). I had ordered two small screens (they cost about the same as the Thai dinner). Because of my measuring error, they were the wrong size. So I returned minutes before closing and asked if they could be re-cut? At this point, the owner had several service choices. He could tell me how stupid I was (true) and charge me an extra fee to re-cut them. He could tell me that because it was closing time, I had to come back to pick them up. He could also charge me for two new screens. What option did he choose?  None of the above. The owner simply told me that “measuring is a bit tricky” and if I could wait, he could re-size them. I offered to pay for his extra time, and he said “no, happy to make them right.” Now, guess what business I will recommend?

Last thought, both of these businesses didn’t have websites (or I would have linked this blog to them). Like good service, having a website is really a business essential. Unfortunately, research shows that 30% of small businesses still don’t have websites. I see another blog coming.

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