Keeping Your Customers

November 15, 2007

There was a new report out today on how businesses, in particular small businesses, should interact with their customers. In a nut shell, it says they should “be nice” to their customer’s, and in some cases write a small “thank you” note and give it to them. The report went on to say, among other things, that businesses should not only just receive and/or read email complaints, but they should actually do something about the complaints. How novel!

As an “older customer”, I have many more years of experience than some in dealing with both retailers and wholesalers. But it is the retailers I address here. I remember when a retailer, no matter how large or small, conducted themselves in such a manner that left no doubt about how much they appreciated their customer. Today, it is very obvious that the attitude has changed. There are two consistent attitudes I notice when shopping; “Please don’t bother me” and “Ok, I’ve got your money, now get out”.

An example of this attitude, one most everybody will recognize, is one that is filtered down to the cashier, who is sometimes a manager or owner. The cashier will hand you your receipt, coupons, paper money, and coins, all in one pile. The customer is now expected to very quickly put it all away and get out of the way. And if you spend any time at all sorting this stuff, they make it very obvious they’re being inconvenienced. And, as I said, this is consistent with ever single retailer without exception. Therefore, it is obvious this is a basic, standard employee training practice used by all retailers for the intent of rushing the customer out. Even if all the other negative attitudes didn’t exist, this one alone would reflect the retailer’s attitude toward its customers.

One of my favorite things to do (but only when the “boss” is watching) is lay all that stuff down on the counter, sort it out, and place it in the appropriate place. I am aware this tends to irritate the customers standing behind me, but I make sure they understand why I am doing this. Try it sometimes and watch the physical reaction of the boss.

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